at-home teeth whitening: does it really work for people with sensitive teeth?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I have always been super self-conscious about my smile – specifically, my teeth. In college, it felt like everyone was constantly taking pictures – selfies to show off a new outfit or a good hair day, pictures with their best friend or a group of people at a tailgate to show they went to the game... I avoided the camera 95 percent of the time and still do. Oh, there are pictures out there of me, but even Patrick and I barely have any photos together that weren't unavoidable photos taken by parents.

And the reason for that is my smile. I love to smile and laugh and I am probably always smiling or laughing, although I have a RBF like you wouldn't believe. I never hesitate to smile – but I hate pictures, especially too close up, because you can clearly see that my smile is yellower than all the others in the picture. It's hard not to notice, honestly.

Years of drinking coffee and sweet tea – I am a southerner, after all – have done serious damage to my smile and stained many of my teeth. My experience with whitening products was never very impressive – I had no time for Colgate WhiteStrips and no money for professional teeth whitening, so I settled with never being very happy with my smile or photos of me.

When Smile Brilliant reached out to partner, I was thrilled!

Disclaimer: I received this product from Smile Brilliant in exchange for my honest and thoughtful review. I would never review or recommend a product unless I truly loved it. 


Smile Brilliant is an at-home whitening kit that is totally personalized to your smile. I made molds of my teeth using their impression kit and sent them back, and about a week after sending my impressions in, I had a personalized whitening kit to get started on whitening my teeth. The impression kit is easy to use and comes with super simple instructions, and the impressions they made with my kit are a perfect fit for my teeth! (So, I guess that means I did the kit right!)

My tip for you as far as the impression process goes: Read the instructions from beginning to end before you start. I hate doing this, and I am bad at it! But this time I decided I wouldn't screw anything up by not following directions, and I am glad I read through. They also sent an extra set for impressions, almost as if predicting that I wouldn't read the instructions from beginning to end. Smart.


You can whiten for about 45 minutes to 3 hours each day, which is pretty amazing. A lot of people might think, "I don't have time for that." But once I had my impressions in, you could hardly tell I was doing anything as time intensive as whitening my teeth. One day, I did it in the middle of my workday and was editing stories while I whitened! But most days it was easiest just to do it before bed.

The trays fit so well that I rarely noticed they were there. But – TMI coming your way! – I drooled a lot during the process, so I usually whitened before bed, when I had nowhere to go, no one to see and no chance that I would need to spontaneously hop on a Google Hangout while drooling out of the corner of my mouth.

You also shouldn't eat or drink for a while after whitening, and you should wait up to 24 hours before drinking things like coffee or red wine that might stain your teeth. That's another reason to do it before bed, especially if, like me, you are always putting something in your mouth! This was very difficult for me and, let's be honest, I couldn't and didn't go a full 24 hours after whitening before drinking coffee again.


I never used the whitening gel for a full three hours, because unfortunately during this period, I was experiencing extreme teeth sensitivity from a few dental procedures and grinding my teeth. I usually whitened between 45 minutes and an hour each day. If you are also experiencing extreme sensitivity or have extremely sensitive teeth, I recommend what the amazing rep at Smile Brilliant recommended to me:

• Prep your teeth with the desensitizing gel for 2-3 nights before your first whitening sessions.
• This gel should be left on for about 15-30 minutes.
• On the 3rd night, you will use the whitening gel for 30-45 minutes (start with shorter sessions to ensure you are comfortable).
• After your whitening session, you will use the desensitizing gel afterward.

My teeth haven't felt more sensitive as a result of the whitening gel, and I credit that to the desensitizing gel, for sure. I am grateful for the extra tips from Ashley at Smile Brilliant to make sure I could get the most out of my whitening kit without any extra pain!

I could notice results right away but after four sessions, I noticed that a prominent stain on one of my I-teeth had faded and my smiles in selfies were brighter. By the end of the process, I feel much more comfortable smiling and taking photos. I think to get rid of my yellowing on most of my teeth altogether, I would need to do an entire round of whitening again, maybe even a third time – but I was thrilled with this much progress! But the best part about that is – I can just purchase more whitening gel to whiten as I need to, since my trays are already made for me. This is a totally customizable process.

To show you what I was working with before... even photo editing and filters weren't making a dent in my teeth, and the photo below is actually a good day for my smile.

SO thrilled that my selfie-taking increased by about 200 percent


A whitening kit from Smile Brilliant costs between $139 and $179, depending on if you do or do not get desensitizing gel (and I would recommend it), which you can compare to $600 to $850 at the dentist.

I got 3-4 uses out of each syringe, and depending on which size kit you purchase, you will get between 9 and 27 applications out of the syringes. If you have a very yellow smile, I recommend the kit with 6 or 9 syringes, because I definitely could've used a few more applications to get more of my stains to fade!


I've partnered with Smile Brilliant to give away a whitening kit to one lucky reader! Giveaway information to come. Want to enter? Follow this link and enter your email! The giveaway will be open for one week and is open to USA, UK, Australian and Canadian residents.

Tooth Whitening Gel


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