Do Crest White Strips Work - The Verdict

Updated: Aug 26

The crest white strips can be found at any pharmacy and they're significantly less expensive than whitening options from your dentist. Do they actually work and is it worth your money to give them a try?


Even if they're inexpensive but if they don't give you the results that you want then its still a waste of money. This article will explore the efficacy of the crest teeth whitening strips so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to purchase them.


shape of teeth whitening strips


Table of Contents:



Do crest white strips really work?

Crest white strips are a legitimate at home teeth whitening product that you can purchase over the counter. They definitely do whiten your teeth because they contain hydrogen peroxide, which is one of the only two whitening ingredients in existence. The other one being carbamide peroxide.


This is in contrast to whitening toothpastes, which do not contain any hydrogen peroxide. The toothpastes only whiten via mechanical abrasion by removing extrinsic stains. This is akin to wiping dirt off of your white marble counters.


On the other hand, since white strips contain hydrogen peroxide they are able to chemically oxidize intrinsic stains from your tooth enamel. That is akin to bleaching a stain off of your white t-shirt. This makes the strips more effective than any whitening toothpaste. It also means that they actually do whiten your teeth, not like how the toothpastes allege to do.



How do crest white strips work

They whiten your teeth by using hydrogen peroxide which has the ability to chemically oxidize deeply embedded stains within your enamel. The whitening gel is delivered via flexible strips that adhere to your teeth.


The purpose of the flexible strip is to hold the whitening gel against your teeth so that they don't spill all over your mouth. They also act as a barrier to protect the gel from your saliva which has enzymes which can inactivate the whitening material.


Overall, you basically place them over your teeth and leave the strips on for 30-60 minutes, depending on what the instructions say. Then you just repeat the process for how ever many days it says you're supposed to do.


How to use the crest white strips:

  1. Remove the white strips from the packaging.

  2. Apply the strips firmly onto the enamel of your teeth.

  3. Remove the strips after 30 minutes.




How long do crest white strips take to work

If you take a before and after photo, you should notice your teeth become ever so slightly whiter after the first use. Yes, the crest white strips do work after one use although the effects may be more mild.


However, the more consecutive days that you use it you should notice your teeth getting whiter and whiter. The whitening effect becomes more prominent the longer you use it. After about the first week or two, there should be a pretty noticeable difference in your teeth color.


Therefore, in order for you to see the full effect of the crest white strips it may take up to a week or two. After that, the color that you see is probably the maximum whitening that it can achieve. If you still want your teeth whiter after that, you may need to seek out a professional whitening option from your dentist.




How effective are crest white strips?

The crest white strips do in fact whiten your teeth but they are NOT the most effective product on the market. If we had to rank them, they would be more effective than whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes, and the pens. They are less effective than all take home options from your dentist.


The reasons why they're not the most effective is because the strips come in a lower concentration of whitening gel and also the flexible strips as a delivery method is imperfect.


Lower concentration

Since the white strips are a do it yourself take home product, there is literally zero professional supervision. Due to that fact alone, manufacturers purposefully decrease the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide in the strips. They do this to minimize the chances of you harming your teeth.

Whitening products that you receive from your dentist directly will be multitudes more potent than the crest white strips. It is because you are under direct supervision by a licensed oral health professional.


White strip manufacturers do this in order to reduce the liability in case something does happen. Thanks to that, it does however make the strips very safe to use and unlikely to cause you any real harm.


Imperfect whitening gel delivery method

The flexible strips as a means of delivering whitening gel to your teeth is actually one of the reasons that makes them less effective. The strips are a flat rectangular shape so they do NOT contour to the nooks and crannies of your teeth. This will result in uneven whitening because they will inherently miss some spots here and there.


What we mean by that is if you compare the crest white strips to a customized take home solution from your dentist. The customized whitening trays will perfectly conform to the shape of your teeth. That makes the whitening much more even and will not miss any spots!


customized whitening trays
customized whitening trays

If you wanted any consolation, the whitening strips are more effective than the whitening pens, which do not have any flexible barrier to protect it against saliva. Keeping the saliva away from the whitening gel is half the battle in whitening your teeth. Saliva will reduce the effectiveness of the whitening gel.




The risks associated with using whitening strips

The most prominent side effect of using crest white strips is teeth sensitivity afterwards. That however is a side effect for all whitening products and is not exclusive to the strips. The teeth will be particularly sensitive to anything cold such as ice water and various cold treats.


The reason the teeth get sensitive is because the whitening gel will dissolve and dislodge the smear plugs that normally block the dentinal tubules which lead to the nerve. Since the tubules are wide open, stimuli such as cold can go straight to the nerve and trigger pain.


Below is a schematic diagram showing what happens to the smear plugs when it comes into contact with the bleaching gel. Credit to KoR Whitening.

bleaching gel effect on smear plugs
bleaching gel effect on smear plugs

Aside from the sensitivity, the other risks involved are accidentally whitening your gums and ending up with a splotchy result.

  • Whitening your gums. Since the strips aren't contoured to your teeth. Sometimes the gel can accidentally get onto your gums and bleach them white. It may looks cary but it will return to normal after a few days once you stop using it.

  • Splotchy result. Another effect of the non-customized strips is that they will whiten unevenly. You may end up with certain splotches of your teeth that will not have whitened. Some will be white while others will not be. The only way to fix it is to continue whitening or choose a professional option instead.




Alternative teeth whitening options

There is a plethora of teeth whitening options aside from the crest white strips. Some are more effective than others but we will go over all the ways on how to whiten your teeth.



Whitening toothpaste

Most toothpastes on the market will allegedly whiten your teeth by mechanically abrading away extrinsic stains. That is effective in preventing your teeth from becoming yellow and stained by food and plaque.


There are however, two toothpastes which actually contain whitening material. This sets them apart from the rest of the crowd. If you wanted to seriously whiten your teeth, we would recommend that you consider one of these two products:

  • Colgate optic white renewal

  • Supersmile



Whitening mouthwash

Mouthwashes which are marketed as whitening can potentially whiten your teeth because they contain hydrogen peroxide. However, their effectiveness may be questionable since they lack the mechanical stain removing capability of toothpastes. You can swish it around your mouth but rinsing will never be effective as manually brushing your teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste.


In addition to that, whitening products usually work based on contact time. That means simply rinsing your mouth for 30 seconds to a minute may not be enough time for the whitening to even work.


In contrast, the crest white strips are left on the teeth for a total of 30-60 minutes which is significantly more time. That just goes to show you how important the contact time is.


Nonetheless, the mouthwashes are easily accessible, inexpensive, and easy to use. There is no harm in using it as an adjunct to your teeth whitening regime. It can only help and it won't hurt so you may as well give it a try along with the other products.



Whitening pen

The teeth whitening pen is a fairly new product and it can in fact whiten your teeth since it also contains real whitening ingredients. Its pretty easy to use since you treat it as if it was a brush and paint over the surfaces of your enamel. Then you go to sleep with it and when you wake up your teeth should be whiter.


This product is definitely more comfortable than the flexible strips and the trays since it doesn't feel like you're wearing anything. Some people may find the strips and trays not as comfortable and may prefer the pen for that reason alone.


The downside to the whitening pen is that their efficacy is called into question because there is no barrier to protect the whitening gel from the enzymatic activity of saliva. Your saliva will break down the whitening gel, thus rendering it less effective. Due to this reason alone, the crest white strips will be more effective than the pen since the flexible strip doubles up as a barrier against saliva!



White strips with LED light

This is literally the same product as the crest white strips but you just use a LED light in addition to the flexible strips. There isn't any additional steps that you need to do aside from using the light while wearing the strips. it doesn't take more time either so you might as well give this option a try.


The concept behind the LED light is to mimic the ZOOM whitening product, which made the light infamous in the whitening industry. Most patients come into the office asking about the light!



Professional customized trays

A more costly option would be to get customized take home whitening trays from your dentist. Sure it cost more but the material does come in a significantly higher concentration which increases its effectiveness.

In addition to that, the customized trays will give you a more even whitening since it is contoured to your teeth. It will also act as a barrier against saliva and protect the bleaching gel from enzymatic degradation. That in turn will increase the efficacy of this whitening method and that definitely gives it a solid edge over all over the counter products.



In-office whitening

If all other whitening methods fail to give you the result that you want, you will need to get professional teeth whitening at the dentist in-office. This is the most potent and effective way to whiten your teeth.


Here you will be able to whiten your teeth with the highest concentration of bleaching gel while under a controlled environment. Your dentist will isolate your teeth and keep the saliva off of your teeth by using the saliva ejector. This increases the efficacy of the whitening that you will not be able to achieve at home.


The two most effective in-office whitening systems on the market are the ZOOM and KoR whitening. The difference is that the ZOOM utilizes the light while KoR does not. However, the concept behind KoR is to keep the whitening gel as fresh as possible by refrigerating everything and separating out the mixtures.


Here are some of the results by KoR whitening:

KoR Whitening before and after

Pretty amazing results if we do say so ourselves. What are you waiting for? Why don't you go give it a try. You won't be disappointed with in-office whitening.



The Verdict

If you were still wondering whether or not the crest white strips work, the answer is yes they do. They can in fact whiten your teeth since they do contain actual whitening material, hydrogen peroxide. That is one of only two ingredients which have the ability to chemically oxidize the deeply embedded intrinsic stains in your enamel.


Therefore, yes they should be able to whiten your teeth. However, you should be aware that the white strips do tend to come in a lower whitening concentration so it may not be as effective as you like. They should lighten up your teeth but it probably won't turn Hollywood white like what you see on the celebrities.


In addition to that, the delivery method of the whitening gel which is via the flexible strips, also decrease the efficacy. It may cause uneven whitening and it also doesn't protect the whitening gel from the saliva perfectly. Both of these two things drag down the potential results of the whitening strips.


Nonetheless, they should still be more effective than any whitening toothpaste, mouthwash, and whitening pen. Having the flexible strips as a barrier against saliva is better than not having one at all. Saliva is bad for teeth whitening since it contains enzymes that act to degrade the bleaching gels.


Our opinion is that if you want to give the crest white strips a try you should go ahead since they're easy to use and relatively inexpensive. If you don't get the results you want then you can move onto a professional product but you should expect to spend more if you do!

140 views
David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!