Want a healthy, bright smile? Thanks to a bounty of at-home whiteners, you can get whiter teeth in the comfort of your bathroom. For significant stains and yellowing, a dentist consult is best, but consider an OTC option when your pearly whites need a little lightening. Herewith, the nitty-gritty on going the great white way:
TYPE: At home tooth whiteners generally fall into three categories: bleaching with a tray system; applying strips loaded with whitening ingredients directly to teeth; or coating stained teeth directly with a "pen" that dispenses active ingredients through a brush or foam tip applicator. Some bleaching systems incorporate a battery-operated light that gives faster results.
EFFICIENCY: The best brightening and stain-erasing systems are ones with a high concentration of peroxide. You'll get the whitest smile from a tray system, since it protects saliva from seeping onto your teeth and keeps the bleach from losing potency. Strips are a close second, because the dose of peroxide is very high, but be wary of the strips slipping and sliding off teeth. Finally, paint on brushes has the least amount of peroxide, but gives lightening quick whitening, good for rubbing out red wine or coffee stains.
CONVENIENCE: Deciding which whitening system works for you depends on your lifestyle. Always on-the-go? Pick a pen. Have an hour? Strips are a good choice, because they're used for half-hour intervals twice a day, over a week, and can be worn easily while watching TV or taking a shower. A tray system requires the most time, such as a few hours a day, sometimes overnight, during a two week period.
MAINTENANCE: Once you get a whiter, brighter smile, you'll want to keep it that way. Look for daily mouthwashes, toothpastes, flosses and touch-up whiteners with mild bleaching agents and abrasives that help rinse away stains from food, coffee, tea, wine or cola and prevent yellowing.
"Fashion Is Foremost Inspiration"
Lisa Cohen Lee