Whiten Your Teeth
We all want to look a little better, right? One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is with a whiter, brighter smile. If that seems a bit shallow, well, that's because it kind of is. But that's not to say there isn't a payoff for such vanity. A recent study commissioned by Match.com asked women what they judge men on most. The number one response? Good teeth. Along with dating, having whiter teeth can also help you professionally. Kelton Research, an independent research firm, found that 58% of a study's participants were more likely to be hired and 53% received larger salary offers after their teeth had been whitened. So what's the best way to whiten? That's a hard question to answer broadly, as everyone's situation and starting point is a bit different. But if you don't have the cash or time to have a professional whitening done at the dentist, there are easy ways to brighten your smile and effective at-home treatments to whiten teeth. Herewith, a few expert recommendations.
Change Out Your Toothbrush
According to Beverly Hills-based dentist Dr. Arthur Glosman, you should replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if you notice the bristles beginning to bend. Once they're worn down, he says, they're no longer effectively cleaning your teeth.
Brush Your Tongue
Bacteria not only causes bad breath, it can also discolor your teeth, says cosmetic dentist Dr. Debra Gassman. The back of your tongue is where a lot of bacteria accumulates, so be sure to brush your tongue vigorously, rinsing your brush between strokes to remove the bacteria.
While flossing and brushing after each meal would be ideal to prevent staining, the very least you can do is rinse your mouth with water immediately after you've eaten harmful or staining foods—anything from red wine and tomato sauce to dark berries and acidic citrus fruit. The next best thing to rinsing with water? Chewing sugarless gum.
Want results in just 45 minutes? Your dentist can provide dramatic results with the Zoom WhiteSpeed LED light-activated system. The treatment costs on average $500 and patients report mild tooth and gum sensitivity, but your teeth can be whitened up to eight shades.
Beginner whiteners often experience some sensitivity, according to Richard Price, DMD, of the American Dental Association. A toothpaste fortified with potassium nitrate like Tom's of Maine ($4.69) is recommended for at least a week before any treatment. While there are a bevy of at-home options, Crest Whitestrips—which revolutionized the industry a decade ago—remain your best bet. The brand's Professional Effects strips ($43.99) hug teeth snugly, won't slip off onto gums and deliver solid results in just over a week. Don't worry about things like whitening mouth washes or floss. Chances are, if you can't see it, you don't need to brighten it.
One of the first whitening toothpastes, Email Diamant ($15), debuted in 1893 and is still available today.