(Beauty Report Card)

I'm Shocked That This Teeth Whitening Gel Actually Works & Doesn't Hurt My Gums

A miracle I say.

Originally Published: 
Courtesy of Marina Liao
Marina Liao selfie.
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My quest for whiter teeth is an ongoing journey. Though I experimented with dental strips back in high school, after I experienced gum sensitivity (a common side effect of whitening products), I abandoned them. It never bothered me that my teeth were slightly yellower than I liked. But after picking up a coffee habit over quarantine (I rarely drank it before last year), I realized my teeth, now, desperately needed major maintenance. By chance, I was ordering mouthwash when I stumbled upon Bite's whitening gel for sensitive teeth. Since I trust and use the brand’s other products (they offer plastic-free items like toothpaste and deodorant), I added the gel to my checkout cart and was eager to restart my stain removal process.

Aesthetic-wise, the gel comes in a cute recyclable glass jar with an aluminum lid while the accompanying compostable brush is made of bamboo and Caspian oil bristles. There are nine ingredients in Bite’s gel, ranging from carbamide peroxide (the chemical that actually makes your teeth whiter) and xylitol (it repels cavity-causing bacteria) to peppermint oil and aloe vera (it soothes your gums and teeth). Because I had conducted research into the types of chemicals in teeth whiteners, I wanted to understand the difference between carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide — the active ingredients found in all teeth whitening products. Was one better or safer than the other?

“The biggest benefit of carbamide peroxide over hydrogen peroxide is that hydrogen peroxide releases whitening powder a lot quicker whereas the carbamide peroxide has more of a delayed reaction and lasts longer,” Dr. Marc Sclafani of One Manhattan Dental tells me. “Carbamide peroxide also has a high water content that helps prevent dehydration [in your teeth, which can lead to sensitivity], but both ingredients will act as bleaching agents.”

Sclafani also adds that it’s important to look for other ingredients in a product that can aide in preventing teeth sensitivity. “Look for potassium nitrate or amorphous calcium phosphate, because they can protect you from sensitivity and decrease the bacteria [in your mouth],” he says.

With all this in mind, I jumped into my two-week trial with Bite’s gel. Before you even apply it, you have to make sure your teeth are dry — I patted mine down with a paper towel — and that you’ve properly brushed and flossed. (Sclafani emphasizes that a clean surface is important for the whitening process and flossing helps to reduce gum sensitivity.) Then, I applied the gel and left it on for two minutes, which I repeated twice a day for 14 days. During those two minutes, your lips can’t touch your teeth so the gel can set in. (A useful tip here was that I smiled wide and tilted my head back slightly, so I wouldn’t drool all over myself — attractive, I know.) Once time was up, I spat out the rest of the gel without rinsing and avoided eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes as recommended. (I was also suppose to avoid foods that stained my teeth during the bleaching process, but alas, I couldn’t give up my weekly coffee or matcha lattes.)

Over the next two weeks, the only form of discomfort I experienced was a temporary, minor numbing sensation if the gel got on my gums. (Small white patches also formed on my gums in those two minutes, but disappeared quickly afterwards.) “[The white spots] are similar to a sunburn, so it’s not permanent damage and will go away,” says Lindsay McCormick, Bite’s CEO and founder. “It’s a part of the process because you are putting bleach on your teeth, though ours is a gentler product for sure.” All this didn’t dissuade me from using the gel (and I have a very low pain tolerance) and after 14 days, my teeth became a little whiter. I asked my boyfriend to confirm the results and he said he noticed a small difference.

Day 0: My teeth were yellow from coffee, wine, and other food-related stains.Courtesy of Marina Liao
Day 14: My teeth were ever so slightly whiter.Courtesy of Marina Liao

At this point, the high school me would have given up in frustration over these minor results, but the 29-year-old me knows that teeth whitening is indeed a work in progress. It requires patience, time, and maintenance. McCormick adds that for those who are unsatisfied with the results, the person can try again in another two weeks. (Plus, if you have left over gel — as I still do — you can it store in your fridge and use it for up a month.) I was happy with the fact that there was no lasting sensitivity to my gums or tooth — I’m able to consume hot and cold drinks without any issue or further irritation — so that I can actually keep using the gel. I’m waiting the required two weeks before I use up the rest of my current bottle. I also already have a second new jar waiting for me — it’s safe to say that I’m obsessed.

Whether you’re interested in maintaining your pearly whites or plan to kickstart your own teeth-whitening journey, start with the sensitive-approved product picks ahead.

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