When I review a product, I like to give some context as to why I’m using it. So here is how I came around to trying Smile Brilliant.
When I got engaged last December, I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be the bride that completely transformed herself before her wedding. There’s nothing wrong with that– I take stock in the “you do you” mindset. However, it has been really important to me throughout the wedding planning process that I feel (and look) like myself on my wedding day. It’s kind of crazy, there is all of this pressure to start “sweating for the wedding”, get lots of beauty treatments, and all in all look like *your. best. self. possible.* at whatever cost on your wedding day. It all stems from this industry that has been created to make you feel like you need to spend lots of time, energy, and money to get married. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel pretty on your wedding day– who doesn’t– but surely there is some middle ground. I’m not writing this to dictate what is the right amount of effort to put into your wedding, but really just sharing my perspective.
So, soap box aside, I’ve tried to keep things reasonable in my own wedding planning and preparations process. I found a dress that I love and will have someone to help me do my hair (because updos are hard!), but will be doing my own makeup, avoiding extreme exercise and diet changes, and staying away from any major cosmetic procedures. However, there is one thing that I have always been insecure about cosmetically– my teeth. When I was given the opportunity to work with Smile Brilliant on a review of their teeth whitening product (and to sponsor a giveaway), I jumped. So, if you are curious to see how the product works, a detailed review of the experience and before/after photos, and would like the chance to win an entire teeth whitening kit for yourself, read on!
This post contains affiliate links and features product provided to me by a brand. As always, opinions are my own and honesty is top priority in everything that I publish.
I have been self conscious of my teeth since around middle school. It all stemmed from an unfortunate accident at the local pool when I was eight years old and chipped a significant chunk off of my left front tooth (don’t swim underwater with your eyes closed and your mouth open, FYI). That day ended in a trip to the emergency dentist who was repaired my tooth with composite bonding. The initial result was a front tooth that perfectly matched it’s friend on the right side. However, with time, the bonding stained unevenly relative to the rest of my teeth. Unfortunately, bonding doesn’t lighten with white strips, whitening toothpastes, or even concentrated whitening treatments (like Smile Brilliant)– the only way to fix the staining is to replace it. So, as I got older and started drinking coffee…and eventually red wine, the staining progressed and I became more and more insecure of my teeth. Because whitening the surrounding teeth would just make the one stained front tooth stand out even worse, I avoided any other whitening treatments. By the time that I was in college, it had reached the point where I was unwilling to smile with my mouth open!
That brings me to now! I made the decision to proceed with teeth whitening with Smile Brilliant and test it out for review. The plan was that once I reached the desired level of “whiteness” in the surrounding teeth, I would get my bonding re-done to match (sometime in January, probably!) so that I could smile with an open mouth without feeling insecure at the wedding. I know that in reality hashtags are just a marketing tool, but there is something about theirs, #smilefearlessly, that really resonated with me. That’s exactly what I want!
I’m lucky in the sense that my future father-in-law is a dentist with almost 40 years of experience in both general and cosmetic dentistry. I was able to talk to him about Smile Brilliant, as well as tooth whitening in general.
He verified that the active ingredient in Smile Brilliant is the same active ingredient used in the kits given out by dentists, specifically the strongest percentage that he provides. He also was happy to hear that a fluoride desensitizing gel was provided, just as it would be in the office. The downsides that he mentioned to not going through your dentist were that your dentist would perform the mold for you in office, guaranteeing a good fit. They would also be around to troubleshoot in person if you were to have any problems with the whitening experience or the product. He did mention that the percentage of carbamide peroxide (the active ingredient mentioned above) in Smile Brilliant is higher than he would use on many patients depending on their sensitivity levels, and he has the ability to use lower concentrations is his office kits. Additionally, he recommends that all of his patients have a professional cleaning prior to beginning a whitening regimen as the presence of tartar or plaque build up can cause a “spotty” result.
All of that said, given the price that teeth whitening kits from your dentist’s office can range from almost $200- $400+ (not including the visit cost, etc.), and since I didn’t have a history of any tooth sensitivity, we figured it was definitely worth testing out.
Making the Trays:
The Smile Brilliant package arrived with the contents securely protected and laid out in a way that made it easy to figure out what each item was. The first step in this teeth whitening journey was to make the mold. To do this, you had to mix the blue base product with the black catalyst product together, press it into the blue tray, and then fit your teeth into it. Mixing the base and catalyst products took me back to elementary school craft days– it was easy to do and felt like a combination of silly putty and clay. The instruction guide for making the molds was easy to follow, and I had no problems making mine. However, they do provide an extra catalyst and base set with each kit (notice the third pair in the photo) just in case you mess up.
After that, you just leave the molds alone until they harden, fill out a small card with your shipping information to place with your molds, and place them into the pre-labeled and pre-paid envelope. From there, your work is done until an envelope is returned to you within about a week or two (in the US) with your custom-fitted trays all ready to go! Here are what mine look like:
The Whitening Process:
The whitening system is easy to use. There are pre-filled syringes labeled “teeth whitening gel” and “desensitizing gel” that make the whole process very user friendly. Each syringe contains about 3 treatments (though most of the time I could stretch it to 4). To begin, you brush and floss, and then apply a thin string of the whitening gel on the outer front portion of the tray. You slide the custom fitted tray onto your teeth, and then hang out for 40 minutes to 3 hours (according to the instructions). On my first application of the product, I experienced “zingers”– like sharp, quick tooth pains, at around the 35-minute point and so I stopped there, rinsed my mouth, and moved onto the desensitizing gel. You apply the desensitizing gel just like the whitening gel (just make sure to rinse out any excess whitening gel first!) into the tray, leave it on for 15-20 minutes, than remove the trays. However, since they base of the gel is fluoride and you want it to hang out on your teeth for longer, you just remove the excess with a tissue and go to bed.
I found that if I used the whitening gel every night, I would get the “zingers” always at around the 35-40-minute point. I reached out to Smile Brilliant since I had never experienced any tooth sensitivity prior, and they recommended that I only whiten every other day since I seem to have more sensitive teeth. With that regimen, I was actually able to tolerate hour- hour and fifteen-minute-long treatments and really started to see results. I never experienced any problems with gum sensitivity, but they did recommend that if that became an issue to apply Vaseline to the irritated areas prior to whitening.
Does Smile Brilliant Work?:
I started seeing noticeable results around my third or fourth night of treatment and felt that I continued to whiten significantly more with each time up through about the twelfth treatment. At that point, progress began to slow some. I think if I were to keep going, I could continue to get a bit whiter, but I am going to focus on maintaining for now and then may work on “boosting” to get a bit whiter right before I get that pesky front tooth re-bonded.
Due to my own tooth sensitivity, twelve treatments took me three weeks– so this before and after photo shows three weeks of progress.
I tried to keep the lighting as consistent as possible and didn’t mess with the coloring, contrast, etc. in either photo though there were some slight differences due to changes in natural light. You can see that my front left tooth doesn’t whiten. However, the rest of my teeth definitely do look whiter and brighter. While they may not be blindingly white, I do believe that if I continued to treat for longer sessions and kept up with the every other day routine I could get them a bit whiter (which I may do in January). I am really pleased as the overall brightening seems to have improved the overall appearance of my teeth, making ridges as well as some smaller chips and grooves look less noticeable. I can’t wait to have to front tooth re-done to match– I will update you all then!
My overall experience with Smile Brilliant has been positive. It is definitely an effective product, though I believe that it’s maximum effectiveness for me was somewhat limited by my own tooth sensitivity. That being said, I am happy that I tried it and will continue to use it and repurchase more syringes on my own to prepare for having my tooth re-bonded.
While it is definitely less expensive than a lot of packages available through dentists, it is not cheap. If you do not already have whitening molds, the full kit (that includes 27 applications of both the whitening gel as well as the desensitizing gel) is $179, with various lesser expensive packages available that include fewer applications or skip out on the desensitizing gel (would not recommend).
When I am sent a product to review, which I did in this case (ps– thank you, Smile Brilliant!), one of the most important things that I ask myself is “would I purchase this with my own $$, knowing what I do now?” The answer is yes, I would. The only group of people whom I think it may not be worthwhile for would be those who have super sensitive teeth even without whitening their teeth, since I experienced sensitivity and had never experienced that before. This product is going to be more effective than what is available at the drugstore by leaps and bounds, simply by the percentage of the active ingredient and the custom tray design.
If this is the type of product that sounds appealing to you, or you are considering whitening your teeth, I do have a 10% coupon code available for the Smile Brilliant website: swatchesandstethoscopes
Additionally, they have allowed me to sponsor a giveaway for their products (whoooo!!!)– so if you are interested in trying their teeth whitening system for FREE, then all you have to do is enter here. The giveaway prize includes a full set that allows you to make your own custom trays and includes both the whitening gel and the desensitizing gel. Giveaway is open to the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Winner will be contacted in two weeks.
Thank you all so much for reading! If you have any questions about my experience feel free to ask them in the comments section. I would also love to hear about any teeth whitening experiences or advice that you guys have!