Plus White Whitening Gel ($5)
You don’t need to spend hundreds on teeth whitening with a dentist, or with Dial-a-Smile gimmicks, or famously sensitivity-inducing, hard-to-use strips; instead, Plus White gel is inexpensive, easy to get your hands on, and works for those of us with less than perfect smiles. Heavens – I’m in rare form, I’m pretty sure Plus White was featured as an As Seen on TV item; I never actually saw it on TV myself, but this is one of those things, like the Turbie Twist, that works.
Eons ago, I used Crest Whitestrips. They worked well enough on superficial staining from dark beverages, but when used as directed, they left my teeth (which were not as fussy, then) sensitive; cold things were occasionally intolerable. On top of that, I admittedly have what I snarkily refer to as a, “creatively arranged,” smile (read: my teeth aren’t straight. Most people’s aren’t. I’m not losing sleep over it). Unfortunately, strip-based whitening products (not just Crest’s – Rembrandt has a few, there are some private label ones, etc) aren’t ideal for people whose teeth don’t line up like they’re answering to a drill sargeant; although they can be folded in and pressed to the surface of the tooth, it isn’t as easy as it sounds, and adhesion isn’t as consistent to those uh, “nonconformists,” as is needed. Therefore, my results were uneven and inconsistent.
Before my wedding two summers ago, I revisited Crest; I specifically got the Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrips ($35+)…but remembering my experience with them, I decided to seek a backup option in the form of Plus White Gel (only $5 at Wal-Mart). I gave Crest a shot and found that it is definitely better than it was, doing better job with my staining and with strip adhesion than their decade-old counterparts, but I still have the issue of incongruity of my teeth.
Plus White has a few products on the market (like this convenient kit with everything you need), but I just purchased the gel by itself for my purposes. You can dab the product on your teeth and let it sit for the prescribed amount of time, but considering I didn’t feel like holding my lips open as though I were wearing a set of grills (grillz? Listen, I can’t be expected to know these things), I bought a moldable mouth guard. A cheap one like this one will do, but you can decide what you’ll be most comfortable with (I purchased one with a bit more to it, but it wasn’t necessary).
Go to the athletics section of Target or Wal-Mart (or Amazon) for this rather than buying specifically-made, “teeth whitening,” trays. They cost more and aren’t as likely to keep you comfortable.
There are videos out there of how to mold them; as someone who never competed in a sport requiring one, I would have needed to consult one if it hadn’t been for my husband.
Using Plus White (or other gel-based whitening products) with a tray or mouth guard is easy. You can either dispense some product into the tray and then bite into the tray, or you can apply it directly to your teeth with a cotton swab and then place the tray. The former is easier, but wastes product and you will need to remove any excess that oozes out onto your gums in the front and in the back (with a cotton swab). The latter allows greater precision with less waste, but takes a little longer to do.
If you’re just starting, use Plus White for 15-20 minutes. They recommend twice daily for two weeks, then once or twice a week or so thereafter. For me, though, I had success with just once-a-day usage. I’d apply the gel, place the mouthguard, hop in the shower, and then by the time I was done I’d rinse my mouth, then brush my teeth. After about two weeks of this I noticed a difference, and my teeth DIDN’T hate me (aka I could eat ice cream and consume cold beverages). My gums weren’t being bullied by the peroxide in the gel, either – which is important to note during whitening routines. If your gums appear pale and white, you need to dial back the intensity of your pursuit.
I hadn’t used it in quite some time, but noticed that my lifeblood (read: coffee) hadn’t been doing me favors in that regard, so I renewed my interest in the regimen before Christmas, and I purchased a new tube. So far, so good – my current results are consistent with before, and there’s no discomfort. I’m not a quarter of the way through the tube (and wasn’t far into my first, but wasn’t sure on expiry of things like these).
The Bottom Line
It’s by far the most cost-effective, gentle, and results-producing method I’ve encountered. I have and will repurchase, and recommend to ANYONE who is seeking OTC whitening treatments.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a miracle worker, though, and to have realistic expectations. Extremely deep-set stains or stains from conditions such as dental fluorosis can’t be remedied with Plus White gel (though that would be lovely), and they won’t reliably alter the coloration of enhancements like crowns or veneers.