Whiten Up: 6 Moves for Your Prettiest Smile Ever
How to Whiten Your Teeth on Your Own
Over-the-counter products are best for those who don't want to spend megabucks and don't need the instant gratification of a professional treatment. Follow these steps to get the best results.
- Start with super-clean teeth. Toss your manual brush for a motorized version (try the Oral-B Vitality, $19.99, drugstores). "You can't possibly move as fast as a battery-charged motor," explains Richard Rosen, DDS, a cosmetic dentist at Madison Dental Partners in New York City.
- Pick your method. Toothpastes and mouthwashes will contain the least amount of peroxide (approximately 0.5 to 1 percent) but can help brighten your smile by as much as one shade with consistent daily use. At-home trays and strips usually have more whitening power (from 3 to 8 percent peroxide) and are designed to have longer contact with your teeth for even better results (up to three shades lighter).
- Read the ingredients list -- and follow the directions. Look for bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide and carbomide peroxide, which penetrate the enamel to temporarily oxidize the natural color of your teeth, explains Dr. Rosen. Remember, whitening isn't permanent, so your teeth will eventually either return to their original color or go darker than your desired shade.
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