Smart Woman: Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Anna Phillips craved that magazine model smile. So along with regular brushing, she tried a do it yourself home teeth whitener.

"They don't even let you buy allergy medicine over the counter anymore! You think that the things on the shelf are safe and gentle," said Phillips.

And maybe they are but, then there's this pesky thing called directions.

Phillips said, "I know it says to leave it on for 30 minutes; but couldn't longer make it whiter?"

In spite of having flaunted those instructions before, Phillips was in for quite a surprise when she fell asleep during a treatment.

She said, "So I wake up the next morning with the strips still on my teeth and my teeth are throbbing. I've never had a cavity or anything like that, so that was absolutely the worst pain I'd ever felt in my mouth before."

Phillips say her teeth hurt so badly she couldn't even smile. But, it could have been far worse. Other patients have gone online to share their teeth bleaching horror stories.

Dentist Clark Steffens said, "They're not necessarily unsafe, but they can be if used improperly."

Dallas dentist Clark Steffens says many patients can't resist the temptation to over bleach which can make teeth appear translucent.

"The other thing is, it makes teeth more porous, so if you bleach for too long and then you go out and end up having a glass of red wine that evening, it can actually make the teeth darker than they were when you started," said Steffens.

Even if you decide to whiten at home, experts still recommend consulting your dentist first and then follow the instructions.

Phillips said, "Definitely follow the directions, don't fall asleep, set the alarm full blast. Whiter teeth is not worth the pain of all day aching gums and teeth."

If you do decide to whiten your teeth at home, experts say use a little at a time, because it's far more effective than using a lot of bleaching agent at once.

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