5 Simple Ways to a Whiter Smile

There is a big difference between in-office and over-the-counter whiteners, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use both to achieve and maintain a bright smile. “The ingredients in whiteners at the dentist’s office are of the highest concentration and are more efficient in changing the color of the teeth,” says Houston cosmetic dentist Guy M. Lewis, DDS. “They give you a better result, although over-the-counter whitening products do work too—they just take longer.”

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A Safer Way to Whiten

Whitening at home can be convenient, but it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the risk of tooth sensitivity. Human error, poor fitting trays or naturally sensitive teeth can lead to toothaches. “There is always some degree of potential sensitivity with all bleaching systems,” says Wellington, FL, cosmetic dentist Sam S. Sadati, DDS. “However, there are materials such as fluoride and methods to minimize sensitivity.” Desensitizing topicals and dental dam gel that is sealed over the gums are used in-office to protect gums from irritation and provide a safer way to whiten. “The best result is achieved with a combination of supervised in-office whitening and doctor-prescribed whitening with custom bleaching trays at home,” Dr. Sadati adds.

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The Megawatt Whitener 

Worn in trays for 30 minutes to one hour, this gel contains a higher concentration of carbamide peroxide to whiten teeth faster. It also has desensitizing potassium and soothing aloe vera to protect the gums from irritation. Rockstar White, $48, rockstarwhite.com

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The Stain Remover 

Fight cavities and stains with this fluoride toothpaste that doesn’t overdo it. Accelerated fluoride release and lower abrasive levels help prevent decay and remove stains to maintain a healthy, white smile. Tru Smile Care Whitening Toothpaste, $15, trusmilecare.com

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The Instant Brightener 

Safe to use after every meal, this peroxide-free smile brightener prevents stains from setting in and contains pearlized micropigments to reflect light for an instantly illuminated smile. IntelliWhite Pearl Stain Eraser, $39.50, shopintelliwhite.com

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The Plaque Eliminator

Named for the diamond-shaped brush head, this toothbrush removes more plaque than a manual one, and has five different brushing modes: clean, white, polish, gum care and sensitive. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Toothbrush, $220, sonicare.com