We work diligently all year round to reduce the appearance of eye wrinkles and tone our complexion, but we oftentimes overlook a crucial element that makes us stand out—our smile. Though taking care of our teeth isn’t always the most exciting part of our daily regimen, we can’t overlook the importance of a radiant smile and what a lasting impact it can have. After all, our pearly whites are one of the first things people notice when they meet us.
From oral care devices to plastic strips, there are many teeth-whitening options available to us right now. While in-office whitening might still be the most effective way to achieve a brighter smile, for some, this can also be costly (can be around $650) and time-consuming. That’s why when we heard about Apa Beauty, we were intrigued by the fact that the brand was developed by a renowned cosmetic dentist, Dr. Michael Apa, who describes his line as a “combination of oral care with accents of cosmetic care for your smile.” He explains: “We have unique products to the market, like Apa Pink and Apa Tooth Gloss. We use high-end ingredients to give a luxury experience that makes people excited about taking care of their smile.”
Ingredients like peppermint oil, xylitol and Irish moss extract “not only enhance your smile but also freshen breath, fight cavities and kill bacteria” along the way, notes Apa. To see how Dr. Apa’s at-home teeth-whitening kit compares against generic whitening strips, we decided to put the Apa White Duo ($150) to the test. To help us with this, we asked two heavy coffee and tea drinkers—Kat and Mel—to take part in this experiment.
What Happened When We Tried the White Duo
Before we begin, we have to call out the impressive packaging. The gold gilded interior box is very luxe and almost too pretty to touch. After getting over the initial awe of the beautiful presentation, we noticed that it included a bleaching pen and 10 film strips, which is slightly more than what you’d normally get from your convenience store brand. The process is fairly simple:
Step 1. Prep
Before starting the treatment, we brushed our teeth with water to remove any excess debris. Dr. Apa advises not to clean your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste immediately before you begin since this can prevent the bleach from penetrating the teeth.
Step 2. Apply
After brushing, we applied a thin layer of the White Pen to the fronts of our teeth, avoiding the gum area. Next, we placed the White Film over our top teeth, starting with the front side, then folding to the back side, pressing firmly. We repeated this step for the bottom teeth as well.
Step 3. Wait
Per Dr. Apa’s recommendation, we left the film on for 90 minutes. The films molded onto our teeth very well, so we didn’t have to worry about them slipping or falling off during the process. Note: Do not exceed two hours or tooth sensitivity and gum discomfort may occur.
Step 4. Remove
After 90 minutes, we rinsed our mouth with warm water to help loosen the films. This is an important step since the films stay on very well. After gently peeling the films off, we rinsed away any remaining gel with water. For best results, Dr. Apa recommends committing to and completing the full five days of treatment.
After using the kit for five nights, we caught up with Kat and Mel again to ask them what they thought about the product. Here’s what they have to say:
On Ease of Use:
Kat: “It’s just as easy to use as any other whitening strip, but I struggled with the white pen a bit. At first, I thought something might be wrong with mine because I had to turn the dial a lot to get the product out. It’s there, just keep spinning that dial.”
Mel: “The product is very easy to use. The white films are rather impressive. They feel nothing like the strips you find at the drugstore. They are much thicker and durable and really stick to your teeth. You can even press in between your teeth to get the films to form perfectly around each tooth, fully sealing in all that whitening power. The films stay put VERY well! If you don’t rinse vigorously before removing them, you will be prying them off—which to me, means it’s working.”
On Whether They Experienced Any Sensitivity:
Kat: “I began to feel some gum sensitivity by the fifth day, but less than with drugstore brands, which is extra impressive considering drugstore strips are for 30 minutes and these are for 90.”
Mel: “Though I didn’t experience any pain or sensitivity, I noticed some white spots on my teeth after each treatment. I heard that this is common for some people. Luckily the spots went away after a few hours so I wasn’t too worried about it.”
On What They Think of the Results:
Kat: “The results were fairly gradual but definitely there by day five. My husband commented around day four that my teeth looked whiter. I like that they didn’t turn a platinum shade that would kind of make it obvious. Also, I continued to drink coffee during the whole time—maybe even more than usual—as it was a busy week, so I didn’t have to make additional lifestyle changes to get this result.”
Mel: “I noticed a difference in the color of my teeth as soon as the third day of treatment.”
Kat: “I’ve tried drugstore whitening strips several times before. After this experience, I can say that I vastly prefer the set by Apa Beauty. I like that the films for the top and bottom teeth are the same sizes. A lot of drugstore options have smaller strips for bottom teeth, but just because they show less doesn’t mean I don’t want them to be whitened! Depending on my budget and if I was going to an event, I would definitely consider buying and using this again.”
Mel: “This product requires 90 minutes of treatment, which is kind of a long time especially if you work a full-time job, commute and like to socialize after work. It was challenging to dedicate an hour and a half for five days straight, but in the end, it was worth it because I did see results!”
Additional Tips from Dr. Apa
Of course, teeth whiteners can only do so much when it comes to brightening your smile. The other part of the process is really in maintaining your results and avoiding habits that can stain your teeth even further. Below are some additional tips from Dr. Apa:
Get a professional cleaning twice a year no matter how well you think you take care of your teeth.
Do not let stain offenders like curry, espresso and cigarettes sit on your teeth for too long.
Stay hydrated at all times. Dry mouth will cause stains to set in quicker as saliva is a natural lubricant against staining.
Swap out your regular toothbrush for an electric one and use it twice a day.
Make sure to floss and use a mouth rinse twice a day. It prevents stains from setting in and teeth from decaying.