Are over the counter tooth whiteners effective?
February 29, 2004 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Tooth-whiteners: the ones you see at the supermarket or pharmacy. Are they effective? If so, how long do they take (I'm a pack-a-day ex-smoker)? And which ones would you recommend? Colgate's 'Simply White'? Pearly White? Or something else?
posted by timyang to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
I haven't used any (yet), but Consumer Reports rated the Colgate's Simply White Night the best of the ones they tested. They tested SW Day, SW Night, and Crest White Strips. I can't remember if they tested any others. Whiteners you get from the dentist are supposed to be more effective but more expensive.
posted by noether at 6:53 PM on February 29, 2004

My roommate used the Crest White Strips and nearly died gagging every time she used them. She would end up putting cotton balls in her mouth and sitting there with her mouth hanging open for the entire half-hour she had them on. That said, she seemed to like the results.

Keep in mind that many of these products taste terrible. I like the Colgate Simply White Night because it's not noxious-tasting and has worked okay.

I also like the idea that if the product doesn't work the way you want it to, you can usually get a refund through the manufacturer. I haven't ever done this, but it is reassuring.
posted by Coffeemate at 7:23 PM on February 29, 2004

What about side effects? I've heard a lot of these products are bad because they strip off the first few layers of the enamel that protects your teeth to whiten them. Which products don't do this? Or do they all?
posted by banished at 10:59 PM on February 29, 2004

my partner used a whitening toothpaste for a while (there was a big promotion here in santiago, with free strips of paper showing different colours from white to brown, so you could measure your progress; mirrors on advertising hoardings so you could check there and then etc) - her teeth became more sensitive (to hot, cold things, etc) so she stopped.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:56 AM on March 1, 2004

Slate did a roundup of these products' efficacy. It's here.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:32 AM on March 1, 2004

My dentist told me that the whitening products you buy in the drugstore do some damage to the enamel but not enough to worry about.
posted by orange swan at 6:43 AM on March 1, 2004

I used whitening toothpaste for a while and got yelled at by my hygienist for having odd stain patterns on my teeth. A service like Brite Smile may do better for you.
posted by werty at 7:08 AM on March 1, 2004

I would not waste my time on the over-the-counter stuff.

You can buy online the same stuff the dentists give you. Go to, you'll get the whole kit, including this special clay that you use to make an impression of your teeth and ship back to them, so they can make the "trays" you use in treating your teeth. I am a happy customer of theirs and can recommend them.

As a side benefit, when you get the trays back, they send you the positive cast of your teeth (uppers/lowers) that they used to make them. A lovely tchotchke for your desk or mantle!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:23 AM on March 1, 2004

Topol is good

and apparently not that abrasive, either
posted by matteo at 8:26 AM on March 1, 2004

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