Before and after pictures of whitened teeth with Custom-Fit Whitening Trays next to them
Smile Brillant


My New Favorite Beauty Hack: Custom-Fit Whitening Trays Without The Dentist

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I’m a sucker for beauty dupes. If there’s a cheap option that provides the same high-quality results I’d find from a product at a luxury department store counter... well, it’s in my basket. So obviously I had to give Smile Brilliant a shot; this lab-direct service creates custom-fit teeth whitening trays — the same kind you get at the dentist — but at a lower price, since it doesn’t involve actually going to the dentist. I wanted to know if the process is as easy as it promised to be and how it stacked up to my previous cosmetic teeth whitening attempts — i.e., whitening strips.

A Quick Overview Of Smile Brilliant

  • Smile Brilliant is a lab-direct service that creates custom-fit whitening trays that are designed specifically for your teeth.
  • The company sends all the supplies you need to create your own teeth impressions at home.
  • The process is cheaper since you’re not paying for the expertise of a D.D.S., but the trays are similar to those you’d get at the dentist — so you’re more likely to get professional-level results than you would with over-the-counter drugstore options.

What Hasn’t Worked For Me With Other Whitening Methods

I’ve used whitening strips more than a few times. I’m generally pleased with the results, but annoyed by the fact that they don’t whiten teeth farther back in my mouth, as well as the fact that they miss the crevices between teeth. Custom-fit trays aim to address both problems by offering full coverage tailored to the exact shape of your teeth.

Now usually, if you want custom-fit trays, you have to go see a dentist who will take an impression of your mouth. This can be pretty pricey. I found the cost of professional teeth whitening to be about $600 in Los Angeles (where I live), which is more than I’m willing to spend, but Smile Brilliant essentially cuts the cost (and cuts out the trip to the dentist) by giving you the supplies to make your own impressions at home. The results promise to be equally professional, but the whole system only costs $149 to $189, depending on the the type of kit you choose.

My Experience: The Good, The Bad & The Not-So Ugly

The Good

The Smile Brilliant process was a breeze, from start to finish. The instructions for making the impressions were clear and detailed, and I liked that the company supplied the stamped envelope, so I could just drop the molds off at the post office without standing in line. All in all, much more convenient than making a trip to the dentist.

As I’d hoped they would, the custom-fit trays did indeed reach the crevices between my teeth, and my teeth did end up looking brighter overall. I also found the experience of wearing the trays to be very tolerable. The exact fit meant they didn’t feel bulky and didn’t slide around in my mouth (the way whitening strips tend to), so I could easily wear them for the recommended 45 minutes to three hours, without even thinking about it. I also like the fact that — now that I have the trays in my possession — I can re-up on whitening gel refills at any time without spending a lot of cash.

The Bad

Making the teeth impressions myself proved to be tricker than I expected. It took several attempts for me to get molds that were usable because my teeth tended to drag against the putty when I tried to remove it. (My middle school-era orthodontist told me I have a small mouth, so this might have something to do with it.) It’s definitely worth reading the instructions several times over to make sure you hit the marks correctly. On a good note, you can email Smile Brilliant with photos of your molds, and they’ll let you know if you need to try again.

The Not-So Ugly

OK, nothing ugly to report (yay!). In fact, I was very pleased with the results, and I noticed brighter teeth within approximately three uses. (My friends noticed my teeth at about that time too, so they’re backing me up on this.) They’ve gotten progressively whiter with use, and I personally only had to use the desensitizing gel once. (I’m apparently blessed with hardy teeth.)

Customizability Options For Sensitivity & Level Of Staining

For a lot of people, tooth and gum sensitivity can be a big drawback to teeth whitening. So if you’ve ever felt the discomfort of a cool breeze running across your teeth after whitening teeth at home, you’ll be glad to know you can opt for kits designed for sensitive teeth. These sets include desensitizing gel which helps ease any irritation while also rehydrating teeth overnight. (Whitening tends to dry out teeth temporarily.) All that said, if you have concerns, it’s never a bad idea to check in with a dentist before starting any new whitening routine.

You can also buy a kit based on the level of staining you’re dealing with. If you’re looking to remove lighter stains, you can buy a less expensive option (about $149), or pony up $20 extra if you have heavier stains (I see you, coffee drinkers).

Who Should Not Use This Product

One thing that’s important to note: If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or under 12 years of age, it’s best to skip teeth whitening for now.

The Final Verdict

Smile Brilliant’s system gave me the most effective teeth whitening results of everything I’ve tried thus far. It was well-priced considering how easy the process was — definitely a worthy “dupe” for going to the dentist. If you’re curious about professional teeth whitening — but aren’t willing to shell out the big bucks at the D.D.S. — I’d easily recommend this as your best option.

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Reviews: What Others Are Saying

“I have an obsession with white teeth. I mean really I do. I've tried EVERYTHING on the market that claims to make your pearly whites, well white. But after going through every single thing from strips, to trays with the light, to 3 step tooth paste systems. I think I've found the holy grail.” — Kayla P.

“Great product with significant results. Took me about 5 sessions to see the results, but with monthly maintenance I have been able to keep my pearly whites looking white.” — Anne D.

“I have extremely sensitive teeth and gums and had zero problems with this system. Furthermore, the customer service and staff is so friendly, eager to help and so easy to contact. HIGHLY, highly recommend anyone that is looking for a whitening system to try Smile Brilliant!” — Liliana G.

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