Friday, February 7, 2014

Systematic, Hydromatic, Ultramatic Walgreen's Whitening!: Walgreen's Extra Strength One-Hour Whitening Trays

I'm a coffee drinker. Well, actually, that's kind of like calling Jurassic Park a petting zoo. I have a Starbucks Gold card, for crying out loud. I worked my way through both college and my time as a theatre gypsy tending coffee bars. I mostly drink decaf, but I drink a lot of it.

Oh, and tea. I like tea. I'm Southern, so of course I like sweet tea (and it's all sweet tea. If you want unsweetened, you need to specify), and it better be syrupy enough to pour over pancakes. I'm also a vocalist in the land of pollen, so chamomile is my friend.

And my teeth show it.

I adore my Crest Optic White toothpaste. Without it, I'd probably look like I smoked a carton a day. That stuff is magic, but great as it is, there's only so much it can do. Sometimes, you have to pull out the big guns and go for a whitening kit, which sucks because they're so gosh-darn expensive. Normally, I'd just scrub harder and hope that the Tooth Fairy would show up to grant wishes, but I've got an event coming up in a couple of weeks. I bit the bullet, grabbed my purse, and headed to Walgreen's.

Name brand whiteners tend to run anywhere from twenty bucks to over fifty, and that's before you get into the fancy-schmancy kits with lights. I didn't need all the bells and whistles; just a basic kit that might whiten my teeth. It didn't need to sing or dance or do my taxes. Then, my eyes fell on a generic, Walgreen's branded box that said "Extra Strength Whitening Trays...Whitens teeth up to 3 shades in 1 hour". Beneath the box was a sale sticker for $9.99. SOLD! When I got up to the register, I found out I had three dollars in Balance Rewards, bringing the total down to $6.99. Seriously, you can't beat that.

The instructions were pretty straightforward: rinse with the accelerator for 30 seconds, wear the first set of trays for 25 minutes, rinse with the accelerator for 30 seconds, wear the second set of trays for 25 minutes, rinse with the whitening rinse. The end. Everything was included, and the trays were pre-filled, so there was no mess and no guesswork. It normally takes me about an hour to get showered, dressed, and ready in the mornings, so I decided to try to multi-task and use the kit during that time.

This morning, I rinsed with the accelerator, popped in the trays, and jumped in the shower. By the time I got out, applied some body lotion and did my morning skincare routine, it was time to rinse again and use the second set of trays. While those trays were doing their thing, I put on my makeup, fixed my hair, and got dressed. I was ready to walk out the door when I removed the trays and did the final rinse. Basically, what I'm saying is that this didn't take up any extra time or require much additional effort.

So, did it work? Did a ten dollar whitening kit actually do anything? Yeah. It did. Did it make a shocking difference? Can I star in a toothpaste commercial? Oh, gawd, no. The box only claims to whiten three shades. I feel like it did that, but this is, by no means, a professional job. I'm making a dental appointment next month, and plan to check into whitening while I'm there, but this is a definite improvement. I took before and after photos to compare. These are cropped really closely because, really, who wants to see two sets of my teeth bared? Not me, that's for sure. These are the same three teeth, and the pictures were taken with the same camera, with the same settings, in the same room, with the same lighting.


As I said, it's not a drastic difference, but it's enough that I can tell. The staining is significantly lighter in the bottom photo. I think a touch-up pen may help even more, or at least sustain these results until my event.

Okay, so it worked, but how was the experience? Oddly enough, not completely unpleasant. The two accelerator rinses tasted just like regular mouthwash. They did bubble up more than my usual mouthwash, and that caught me a little off-guard the first time around, but it wasn't horrible, by any stretch. The final whitening rinse was less fun, unfortunately. It had a very heavy peroxide taste, and I'm not entirely sure I made it the full 30 seconds before I sort of involuntarily spit it out. The trays were the part I was most concerned about, and they turned out to be the best part, believe it or not. I don't normally do well with trays. They're typically plastic, uncomfortable, and restrictive. These trays, on the other hand, were foam. They were soft, flexible, and I was even able to stick out my tongue at the dog when he looked at me like I was from another planet. I won't say that I forgot I was wearing them, but I wasn't chomping at the bit (sorry!) to get them out of my mouth. The gel tasted like peroxide, too, but wasn't as difficult to deal with as the final whitening rinse.

Oh, in case you're wondering, tooth sensitivity and temporary bleaching of the lips and gums are possible side effects, but I didn't experience either. In fact, I'm drinking an ice cold drink right now. I can't promise that you won't have any problems, but this is the first kit I've used that didn't leave me with touchy teeth and white gums. Just sayin'.  

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10. It works, and it's not a pain in, mouth.

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