It’s a relatable struggle: You suddenly have a last-minute event to get ready for and think you have everything handled until a quick glance in the mirror reveals your pearly whites are, well, less than pearly.
If a quick trip to your dentist for a Zoom whitening session isn’t in the cards (because too many actual Zoom meetings are getting in the way), don’t stress. We turned to Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist Victoria Veytsman, DDS whose A-list roster reads like a red carpet tip sheet—her clients include Angela Bassett, Hailey Bieber, Madison Beer and just about every Housewife and Bachelorette on TV—to share her tried-and-true teeth whitening hacks.
According to “Dr. V,” consistent maintenance and regular visits to your dentist every six months really is key to megawatt smile (her motto is the mouth is the gateway to overall health), but luckily there are a few things you can do the night before and morning of a big day to make your teeth look whiter and brighter in a pinch.
Apply Whitening Strips
Yes, the OG method of adhering those transparent, sticky little strips onto your chompers still works! And while it may seem like there are more options for whitening strips than ever before, Dr. Veytsman swears by Crest 3D White Whitestrips. “I like them them because they stay on your teeth,” she explains
“You can get the molds with gel, but it’s really all about the hydrogen peroxide gel—both the strips and molds are a vehicle to hold the peroxide,” says the dentist. Crest strips are great for an extra whitening boost when you only have 30 minutes to spare.
Try a Teeth-Whitening Device
Even though Dr. Veytsman stands by hydrogen peroxide acting as the magic ingredient in the fast-track teeth-whitening formula, she does note that an LED-powered device can also be of assistance. “The light can help speed up the pace a little bit faster and activate the gel,” she says. But how many shades whiter you may become really varies. “It depends on how much staining you already have and whether it’s deep internal staining or superficial.
Also, how porous your teeth are can impact the whitening process.” So, it’s best to start using a device like Colgate’s Optic White ComfortFit LED Teeth Whitening Kit a few weeks in advance if you have the time. You can also fill your Invisalign trays with whitening gel (if you use them) or your retainer to whiten while you work according to Dr. V, who recommends Opalescence at Home Teeth Whitening Gel Syringes.
Practice Coconut Pulling
If your FYP is inundated with TikTokers brushing dirt-like charcoal all over their teeth only to reveal a sparkling smile moments after washing it off, you’re not alone. And we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most of these social ads are scammy. “Despite what influencers say and post, I’m not a fan,” says Dr. Veytsman. “It’s counterintuitive; the abrasiveness of the charcoal counteracts any possible benefits and even worse, it can cause micro edges, scrapes, or scratches to the surface of your teeth.” No thanks! That’s her number-one rule: Never use anything abrasive on your enamel. That goes for straight baking soda as well—it’s way too abrasive.
Instead, Dr. Veytsman suggests coconut oil pulling for a natural alternative. “This won’t harm your teeth,” she shares. “My patients even say their breath feels fresher afterwards.” Plus, there’s a little more science behind this one. “Coconut oil is a fatty substance and the wall of bacteria in your mouth is made of a fatty substance (like a lipid) so the coconut oil will bind to the fatty layer of the interior wall and pull it out when you rinse,” she adds. But keep in mind: Alternative methods like these serve as an adjunct to, not a replacement for, traditional methods. So keep brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist every six months if you really want white teeth year-round. Read more about how to pull like a pro here.
Avoid Foods That Stain and Don’t Forget to Rinse
Say no to any food or drink items that have serious staining properties like red wine, curry, tea, blueberries, and blackberries—basically anything that will stain a white shirt. “People think white wine better is better than red wine but it’s still acidic and can promote staining later,” Dr. Veytsman warns. “Stick to water if possible or make sure you rinse well after white wine and any food that’s not on ‘the white diet,’ like mashed potatoes, plain or vanilla-flavored yogurt, white rice and pasta, etc.”
Use an Electric Toothbrush With Whitening Toothpaste
While this last step may seem like a no-brainer, it’s actually the most crucial of them all the night before you want your smile to look its best and always. “I recommend Colgate Optic White Advanced to all my clients because the toothpaste has peroxide in it that helps oxidize stains,” she says. “I love it and use it myself, with the Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige Toothbrush.” According to Dr. V, you can do so much more with an electric toothbrush than a manual one since it’s much more powerful with less effort. “This one brushes away 20X more plaque, which removes 100-percent of stains in less than two days,” she adds.