Spark Whitening states it contains a 22% solution of carbamide peroxide (similar to hydrogen peroxide) and xylitol, a naturally occurring alcohol that has been shown to prevent cavities.
Carbamide peroxide has indeed been approved by the American Dental Association for teeth whitening but they recommend only a 10% solution or less for at-home use. While dental offices use up to 35% concentration, 22% is the highest level allowed for products sold over-the-counter.
The Spark Whitening kit appears to come with a plastic mouth guard, carbamide peroxide solution packets, and a syringe. To use Spark Whitening they instruct you apply the solution to the mouth guard with the syringe, put it on, and let your teeth soak in it (they don’t say how long).
Cautions About Carbamide Peroxide
Carbamide peroxide is a bleaching agent that breaks down into hydrogen peroxide on the teeth and cleans the surface and interior by changing the actual color of the tooth. The most common side effect of using carbamide peroxide is tooth sensitivity and bleeding of the gums. This usually only occurs in the initial stages and stops once the bleaching treatment is discontinued. The ADA recommends consulting with a dentist before embarking on any tooth whitening product and warns the long-term safety of repeated teeth bleaching is not known.
It should be noted that the American Dental Association encourages consumers to use dental products that carry the ADA Seal.
The ADA states in order to use this seal, a company must provide “evidence that meets the ADA criteria for safety and efficacy.” Currently, the ADA website only lists one at-home teeth whitening product called Opalescence Whitening Gel made by Ultra Dent Products that carries this seal of approval.
What’s the Deal With The Spark Whitening Trial Offer?
Spark Whitening appears to offer a $4.95 no-obligation trial offer but there is quite a bit of fine print.
First, you will be sent a Trial Package as well as the Complete Program; according to a customer service representative you have 9 days from the date of your order to cancel and 15 days to return the unused Complete Program portion. If you do not contact them and/or fail to return the unopened Complete Program and used Trial Package, you will be billed $94.31 for the kit you have and then billed $94.31 plus $10.91 shipping every month and sent more Spark Whitening. The Terms and Conditions add: You must take affirmative action to avoid further billing. (Emphasis theirs.)
Spark Whitening appears to also work with “incentive” websites (meaning “Click Here to Get a FREE IPAD!”) and their terms state if you cancel your Spark Whitening order before shipment, you will not get your gift. They add they are “not responsible for third-party offers, incentives, fulfillment or representations that may have been used to direct you to order.”
Bottom Line is Spark Whitening A Good Way to Whiten Your Teeth?
There are a number of concerns with Spark Whitening and their claims we’d like to let you know about.
First, the free trial is very misleading and its short cancellation window (9 days from order, not when it arrives) won’t give you much time to act without being billed at least $94.31.
Second, this company seems to be related to a lot of other shady teeth whitening companies (we put their address in Google and found it’s also used by Bella at Home, Genuine White, Ivory Pro, and Smile Pro Direct to name a few. To top it off, Spark Whitening has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau website.
On their main website, Spark Whitening appears to follow all the rules, placing warnings about processing fees and third-party offers – they even place an Easy Cancel prominently at the top of the page.
We couldn’t find a button to allow us to sign up for the free trial. It wasn’t until we read the fine print and talked to a customer service representative that we found out about its existence.
These teeth-whitener-by-mail companies and their alliances with third parties may tempt people with other offers like IPads or shoes and take them to a shopping cart that doesn’t include all the fine print. And when the product doesn’t work as promised or they keep getting billed, many people complain these companies are scams. Because of these reasons, we do not recommend you sign up for Spark Whitening – and if you have already, keep this number handy: 1-866-711-2831.
And as for the product itself? We couldn’t find any unbiased reviews of Spark Whitening, but Bella at Home receives a 1.5 rating at Amazon with 76% one-star reviews.
Alternatives to Spark Whitening
There are two basic ways to lighten teeth: at home using a bleaching agent that literally bleaches the tooth, or a whitener that removes surface stains. When you visit the dentist office, they may use bleaches with along with a light or laser, but according to the ADA there is no proven benefit of the light, aside from the “cool” factor.
It is generally recommended you discuss a teeth whitening solution with your dentist before undergoing any treatment, especially if you have a lot of fillings or gum/teeth problems.
And while a stronger solution like the 22% carbimide peroxide advertised by Spark Whitening may work faster, it has a greater chance of causing pain. A product that doesn’t have as greater concentration may take longer, but will still produce the same results.
We’ll let you in on a little secret we discovered from a top dentist while researching this article. According to Gennaro Caltado, professor of dentistry at Boston University, Crest Whitestrips work.
Finally, let us remind you that teeth whitening is purely cosmetic and you may be able to reduce or eliminate stains by quitting smoking or cutting back on staining drinks like red wine. If you do decide to use a whitener, don’t do it too often and discontinue if you’re teeth get very sensitive or your gums bleed.
You may also be interested in this article from WebMD on how to whiten your teeth at home (they mention Crest Whitestrips, too).
Let us know your experience with Spark Whitening Below!