There’s inevitably a moment (usually with my lips stretched maniacally back over a plastic tray, like a crazed horse champing at the bit) where I wonder why on earth I’m putting myself through this. Depending on the intensity of the treatment, there may be hours of ‘zingers’ (electric shock-like pains) shooting through my dental nerves, and don’t even get me started on the days of eating stodgy white-coloured food to prevent premature staining. The last time I went to the dentist for a power whitening session, they prescribed me heavy-duty painkillers in a hope of making my experience a little more palatable.
The old adage that ‘beauty is pain’ is so entrenched in our psyche that we just accept it. The reason it hurts? Most whitening systems use hydrogen peroxide, which is a weak acid with strong oxidizing properties. It whitens by stealing the electrons that hold the atoms together, breaking down the stained molecules.
Because it’s so harsh, hydrogen peroxide can create long lasting tooth sensitivity and gum damage. Recent research also shows that there are other risks like tooth surface roughening and softening, increased potential for demineralization and dental restorations degrading and changing colour.
In all my years of beauty writing I’d never come across whitening that didn’t use peroxide, that actually worked, so when I was introduced to Hismile’s new innovation I was sceptical. The Australian brand has famously disrupted the dental industry with their at-home whitening kits and has legions of high profile fans on social media (among which are a handful of Jenners and Kardashians). Naturally I was eager to understand the product and to see if there was much substance underneath all the social hype.
In lieu of flying to their Gold Coast Google-like offices (complete with childcare centre, gym, cafeteria and the Hismile Research Lab) I had a zoom with the founders Alex Tomic and Nik Mirkovic, who explained to me that the business idea originally came about when, in their early twenties, they noticed several friends getting whitening done and then complaining about the sensitivity.
“We wanted to better understand the everyday concerns around teeth whitening,” says Alex. “Why they were occurring and what we could do to fix them. Some of the things we learnt shocked us and they’re exactly what pushed us to make a change for the better.”
“To understand the deeper science behind teeth whitening we worked with the best minds in dentistry,” says Nik. “And also listened to our very own community.”
Version one of the product was a resounding success and their clever marketing strategy set off a social media storm of happy looking customers and influencers doing selfies with blue LED-lit mouth guards.
Several years on, the founders set their sights on creating an even more powerful product. They set up an R&D lab and hired a team of scientists led by Head of Research and Development Mauro Pascolutti, who explains that the latest incarnation of the product is the most exciting yet.
“We have combined the effects of PAP (Phthalimido Peroxy Caproic Acid), Hydroxyapatite, and Potassium Citrate in such a way that achieves an instant whitening effect after just 1 treatment with no pain, sensitivity, or irritation to your gums,” explains Mauro. “This is something that has never been done before and what we truly believe is the future of teeth whitening.”
The brand also partnered with a third-party dentist to have their latest formulation put to the test through a clinical trial. The trial measured for the effectiveness and safety after a single 10-minute whitening treatment, and the results were certainly impressive.
PAP+ showed an instant whitening result for 100% of trial participants; furthermore, not a single person reported any pain or sensitivity from the treatment. The whitening results also speak for themself with 95.2% of participants achieving 2 or more shades, 61.9% achieving 3 or more shades, and even 33.3% achieving 4 or more shades after just 1 treatment.
The research doesn’t stop there, Hismile also partnered with product quality assurance giant, Intertek, to conduct in vitro testing and confirmed the safety of their PAP+ formula when compared to other whitening formulas available today.
Satisfied that the science was in order, I decided to put the product under my own stringent testing
After taking before and after shots in natural light with the colour guide, I note that I’m a shade 4. I start by brushing with the PAP+ toothpaste. It’s a pretty pearlescent, pleasant-tasting gel in a long, elegant tube. Next, I fit the soft rubber mouth guard like tray over the battery-operated light. I twist open one of my six included whitening pods and carefully squeeze half of the gel onto the top of the tray and the other half on the bottom. So far, so easy. Then it’s just a matter of popping it in your mouth and kicking back for ten minutes. I set the timer on my phone. The staggering thing is there’s no pain. No zaps, no sting, no zingers, nada. A quick rinse and I inspect my smile in the mirror. To the naked eye I can already see that they’re brighter. The proof comes when I hold the colour guide up. I’m definitely three or four shades brighter. I’m staggered.
Over the next week I force my loved ones to try it to make sure I’m not an outlier. My mum, who is so sensitive she has left her expensive custom-made whitening trays collecting dust for years swears she feels nothing. My husband, who is starting to show signs of his predilection for red wine saw a whitening improvement of three shades. Hismile’s formula is clinically proven to show an average of 3.4 shades improvement after one ten-minute treatment – but of course, everyone is different.
I can’t rate my experience highly enough. It’s quick, easy, painless and also cost effective. When you compare a painful $800+ treatment at the dentist to a few ten minute sessions on the couch at a time that suits you for a fifth of the cost at $149.00 for a full kit with 6 treatments, it’s literally a no brainer. Or should I say no-brainer.
Words by Sigourney Cantelo. Photography by Claire Wallman. Sponsored by Hismile.