Your teeth will change color over time — it’s a fact of life. Whether it’s that morning cup of coffee, red wine with dinner, or just the march of time, most adults will experience teeth yellowing at some point. But don’t fret! You don’t need to surrender to your tooth stains.
Sporting Smiles gives you a tool to fight back against stains. Their customized kits open the pores in your enamel and oxidize stains, breaking them up and lifting them out. Within 14 days, you can enjoy a whiter smile — no need to kick the coffee habit.
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Sporting Smiles at a Glance
Professional whitening from a dentist is the gold standard for brightening smiles. While nothing can replicate in-office rapid whitening, at-home professional kits can still significantly brighten your smile, and they’re really just two components: whitening gel and the customized trays that hold it to your teeth.
Sporting Smiles offers significant whitening power, without the multiple dental visits and the professional price tag. Founded in Wisconsin in 2009, the company’s goal is to bring affordable, customized dental appliances to the masses. They started with mouthguards and have since expanded to include retainers, nightguards, and the product that inspired this review — teeth whitening.
While at-home whitening requires you to take your own impressions, Sporting Smiles aims to make it as easy as possible. They provide multiple sets of putty and adjustable dual-arch impression trays, so everyone gets the perfect fit. Submit your dental molds and for $80, they’ll send you a customized kit that’s just like the ones your dentist sells.
Pros & Cons of Sporting Smiles
Sporting Smiles is an excellent whitening system that has made a splash in the world of at-home cosmetic dental treatments. And while their trays are a great option for many people, they aren’t perfect. Here are their biggest benefits and drawbacks.
Pros of Sporting Smiles
- The customized trays ensure a more even whitening effect. Shaped to fit your teeth perfectly, they help push the gel into the crevices between the teeth and can even whiten crooked ones.
- They provide two whitening formula options: original or sensitive. While the sensitive one isn’t as powerful, it still brightens smiles, and without as much tooth sensitivity as regular formulas.
- Their gel foams once it contacts your teeth. This ensures it gets between the teeth for complete, even whitening.
- They back their whitening kit with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t happy with your experience, they’ll work to make it right.
Cons of Sporting Smiles
- There aren’t many independent reviews of the system yet. Sporting Smiles’ other products have plenty of positive reviews, which gives us confidence, but we’d like to see more customer feedback on their whitening products in particular.
- They only provide enough putty for you to make one mistake in your impressions. We’d prefer to see enough putty for a couple of mistakes, so customers have more room for errors.
At-home teeth whitening usually involves pens and strips, since they’re often easier and more affordable than trays. However, trays are more effective because they can keep the powerful gel in place, especially customized ones like Sporting Smiles.
By using customized trays, Sporting Smiles is more effective than mass-produced tray-based kits.
Customized trays push the whitening gel into the crevices of your teeth, even those that are crowded or crooked. The trays also cover all your teeth, while whitening pens and whitening strips typically only whiten the teeth that are visible when you smile.
The strength of Sporting Smiles’ gel varies based on the kind you purchase.
Their standard formula contains 35% carbamide peroxide, while their sensitive formula contains 22%. The 35% concentration is standard for carbamide peroxide in at-home kits, while the 22% is low but ideal for those with sensitive teeth.
Both can effectively whiten your teeth, but if you don’t have naturally sensitive teeth and you want the most power possible, go with the standard formula.
Sporting Smiles’ gel foams when it contacts your teeth, helping it coat them better than other formulas.
Foam can get into the crevices of the teeth better than viscous gel, eliminating the typical yellow outline that many whitening products leave behind. However, it is not effective at whitening all tooth stains. Like all whitening products, it is best on yellow stains, somewhat effective on brown stains, and unlikely to make a noticeable difference on others.
You’ll need maintenance treatments down the road, but they don’t specify how frequently.
According to their website, it depends on the needs of the individual. They say they’ll go over this with each customer, so they’ll help you determine the frequency that will keep your smile bright long-term.
The main reason to choose at-home whitening over in-office procedures is the price difference. In most cases, you’ll save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars by opting to whiten with a direct-to-consumer kit. Go with Sporting Smiles and you’ll get one of the most affordable whitening tray treatments on the market.
Sporting Smiles costs just $80 when you purchase the kit for one person.
They also offer a kit for two people, which is just $125. That means the second set of trays and gel are just $45. You can then split the kit with a friend and share the savings. Compared to other types of whitening treatments (like strips), it’s not one of the most affordable kits out there — but compared to other whitening trays, it’s a great deal.
Sporting Smiles includes a lot in the price of its kit.
In addition to the trays and the gel, your Sporting Smiles kit includes:
- 3 sets of putty (6 for the two-person kit).
- 2 adjustable impression trays and return bags (4 for the two-person kit).
- Instructions for taking impressions and using the whitening trays and gel.
- 1 prepaid postage return label (domestic orders only).
- 1 set of upper and lower custom trays (2 for the two-person kit).
- 2 10ml syringes of whitening gel (4 in the two-person kit).
- 1 shade guide (2 in the two-person kit).
Sporting Smiles backs their products with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you aren’t happy, they’ll fix or remake your kit.
Plus, Sporting Smiles whitening trays are reusable, so whenever you want to complete another round of treatment all you need to do is purchase gel refills. Sporting Smiles sells four tubes of whitening gel refills for $19, making future touch-ups highly affordable.
Unlike some of their competitors, Sporting Smiles doesn’t offer financing for their products. That said, it’s difficult to find a custom whitening system at a better price point than Sporting Smiles, so you may not even need to finance your purchase.
Quality of Ingredients
Any whitening product is only as good as its ingredients. Every formula will have at least one active whitening agent, plus supporting ingredients that help it work and make using it more comfortable. Sporting Smiles uses quality ingredients, although their formula isn’t quite as accessible as some of their competitors.
Sporting Smiles uses carbamide peroxide as its active whitening agent, and its concentration is fairly standard for whitening trays.
Carbamide peroxide is a widely trusted whitening agent, used in a variety of different at-home products. It can get your teeth just as white as hydrogen peroxide, but it’s about one third of the strength, so gels can contain a higher concentration without damaging your teeth.
The company states that their kits are kosher. However, they do not appear to be vegan or gluten-free.
If vegan or gluten-free formulas are important to you, you’ll need to look elsewhere. However, all the ingredients in their formula are dental-grade. Aside from the carbamide peroxide, Sporting Smiles’ whitening gel contains:
- Propylene Glycol: This helps keep the gel in liquid form and dissolve the other ingredients.
- Kosher Glycerine: Used to speed up the dehydration of your enamel, helping the peroxide penetrate deeper to lift out stains.
- Carbomer: This adhesive agent helps the gel stay on the teeth rather than slide off.
- Peppermint Essential Oil: This is a flavoring additive to help mask the taste of peroxide.
- Triethanolamine: This helps to balance the gel’s pH level to ensure it works properly and without harming your teeth.
The only ingredient that isn’t super common is triethanolamine. This pH balancer is more common in skin care products, but certain studies have shown that it can cause allergic reactions in some people. If you’re unsure about it, be sure to do your further research and consult your dentist.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but whitening trays are perhaps the least convenient method of brightening your smile. While they’re highly effective, they require you to measure out gel and clean the trays (except for pre-filled ones). Plus, Sporting Smiles adds a start-up process that is more complex than most.
Your Sporting Smiles treatment begins with taking impressions of your teeth and sending in the molds.
There’s a learning curve here. We don’t want you to feel discouraged, but taking impressions of your teeth can be tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before. Hop onto YouTube and watch video tutorials before you crack open the putty.
The good news is that it’s still doable — especially considering you get extra putty in case you make mistakes. This is the hardest part of using Sporting Smiles, and you get it out of the way on day one.
After that, the only mildly difficult step is measuring the gel, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it.
You need to put 0.5 ml of gel on each tray, evenly spreading it in a straight line. Each whitening session takes 10–15 minutes, depending on your sensitivity. The gel loses effectiveness after 15 minutes, so you won’t get more out of your treatments by keeping your trays on for longer. The entire course of treatment lasts 14 days, which means you should have gel left over for maintenance sessions down the road.
The prep steps and post-whitening care are pretty similar to other whitening products.
To prepare for whitening, you need to brush and floss your teeth first with a fluoride-free toothpaste. After your whitening session is over, rinse your mouth with plain water and clean the trays. Sporting Smiles suggests storing your whitening gel in the refrigerator between sessions to preserve its strength as much as possible. For best results, wait at least 30 minutes before eating and drinking.
And that’s it. While it’s a little more complicated than strips or even pre-filled trays, it’s not super complicated either.
Whitening trays are a little awkward to use. All oral appliances can cause lisping and just feel funny on your teeth. But you never want whitening your teeth to be so obtrusive that you avoid treatment, and Sporting Smiles’ customization and flavor make for a fairly comfortable experience.
Sporting Smiles can cause sensitivity, but this is much less likely if you purchase their sensitive formula.
Sensitivity is common for whitening treatments, and some people will experience some tooth pain with either formula. You can prevent it by purchasing their remineralizing gel, which helps to strengthen the enamel and fill the pores of your teeth so things like temperature and sweets don’t cause pain.
You can also change up your wear schedule based on how you respond to the gel. So, if your teeth are sensitive even with the right formula and the additional desensitizing gel, you can skip days or opt for shorter sessions — or both!
Sporting Smiles’ formula includes peppermint oil, which helps hide the taste of peroxide.
This helps make the experience more pleasant, though how pleasant depends on how much you like peppermint. If you’re not a fan, you might not care for the flavor, but it’s still better than tasting peroxide.
Custom trays are more comfortable than mass-produced options.
Since they fit perfectly to your teeth and gums, they aren’t as thick as non-customized options, so they’ll be more comfortable and affect your speech less. They also are less likely to irritate your gums and other oral tissues.
What Are Customers Saying?
There aren’t many independent reviews of the Sporting Smiles whitening system yet. You can find plenty for their retainers and other products, but it seems their whitening just hasn’t gained the same traction.
However, from the reviews that they do have, it seems most Sporting Smiles customers are happy with their custom whitening trays and the results this system delivers. Many reviewers were pleasantly surprised by the ease of the impression making process. Sporting Smiles receives frequent user praise for their customer service and quick turnaround times — even for custom products.
The most common complaint we encountered was from people who found the whitening gel caused sensitivity. That said, several customers noted that they were able to find success using other gel with their Sporting Smile trays. In fact, on their website, Sporting Smiles includes a list of whitening gels that are compatible with their trays. So even if the gel does cause you sensitivity, you’ll still be able to use your custom trays with another formula.
If you want a professional at-home whitening experience without dentist’s office prices, Sporting Smiles offers a nearly perfect alternative. Although their gel can’t match the strength of an in-office treatment, the custom fit trays ensure a more even result than strips and pens while keeping everything comfortable.
Of course, Sporting Smiles isn’t your only option. Check out our review of the best at-home whitening kits to compare the top products available.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I opt for customized whitening trays over options like strips and pens?
Simply put, they get better results. Even when the pens and strips whiten the teeth by the same number of shades (though pens rarely can), their coverage is a little less even.
Are pre-filled trays better than reusable ones?
It depends on your priorities. If your focus is on convenience, pre-filled trays are as easy as it gets. However, if you are more concerned with affordability or environmental-friendliness, reusable trays are better.
How do I prevent whitening trays from drying out my lips?
Invest in a high-quality lip balm and apply it before every whitening session. Or, in a pinch, Vaseline will do.
How quickly will I see initial results with whitening tray kits?
Everyone responds differently to whitening treatment. If your stains are treatable, you should notice a difference within 1–3 sessions. Most kits deliver full results within 14 days.
Can it be dangerous to whiten your teeth at home?
If you consult your dentist beforehand, use a kit from a reputable company, and follow the directions, it should be perfectly safe. Just don’t use whitening products if you have active tooth decay or gum disease.
What happens if I use whitening toothpaste while also using Sporting Smiles?
Whitening toothpastes are pretty weak, so most likely, nothing. Still, you shouldn’t double up on whitening products. Use a standard or sensitive toothpaste instead.
I brush and floss as often as I should, so why did I end up with stains?
Tooth stains aren’t about cleanliness. They come from staining foods and drinks, as well as age. Pretty much everyone will see their smile dull at some point.
Can I use whitening trays if I have braces?
Technically, yes, but we wouldn’t. The trays themselves can pull on your braces and damage them, plus the gel cannot get underneath the brackets, so the results will be uneven after your braces come off.
Is it safe to whiten your teeth when pregnant?
There hasn’t been enough research on this to give a definitive answer. We suggest you speak with your doctor before purchasing a teeth whitening kit.
Can I use whitening trays to brighten the color of my veneers?
Whitening trays can remove surface stains, but they will not bleach the actual veneer material.