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Best Tips and Tools to Whiten Your Smile

Turn back time with the latest lip enhancers, tooth whiteners, and more.

Lip Service

The skin surrounding your mouth and teeth is as much an element of a youthful smile as your teeth themselves. Your lips, like all exposed skin, need a high-SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen: "UV damage can manifest as inflammation of the lips, redness and flaking, and, over time, wrinkling and even cancer," says Macrene Alexiades, Ph.D., M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. An important aside: Though skin cancer of the lips is uncommon, when it does form, it tends to spread to the lymph nodes very quickly. Try Blistex Five Star Lip Protection ($2.50, drugstores) with SPF 30 or Kiehl's Lip Balm SPF 15 ($9.50, kiehls.com).

To combat wrinkling of the skin around the mouth, start with Olay Professional Pro X Deep Wrinkle Treatment ($42, drugstores) for eight weeks; if you don't see results, move up to prescription Renova. For pronounced peaks and valleys, you may want to ask your dermatologist about injectables. A hyaluronic acid filler like Juvéderm or Restylane - ranging in price from a few hundred to a thousand dollars or so, depending on the area you're treating and the area you live in - is delicate enough to plump the fine lines above and below the mouth. Dr. Alexiades likes to pair one of the aforementioned fillers with Botox. "It's the best crowd-pleaser for instant gratification," she says.

Kiss and Makeup

"Lipstick bleeding is the first sign of an aging mouth," says New York City makeup artist Laura Geller. To stop lip color from migrating into lines, pretreat the area around the mouth with concealer: Using your fingertip, lightly dot on one that contains reflective particles. Try Boots No7 Radiant Glow Concealer ($13, Target), and then lightly dust with translucent powder. The rest of Geller's tips for younger-looking lips:

1. Use a lip brush to apply lipstick. The tool gives you optimum precision as well as control over how much color you lay down near the edges.

2. Go bright. "The brighter, the better," says Geller. If your teeth are stained, "muted colors make graying or yellowing teeth look worse." Brights, however, are like a face-lift in a tube. Think pink, rose, or a true red. Try Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Gentlemen Prefer Pink ($8, drugstores) or Laura Geller Lipstick in On Stage ($15.50, laurageller.com).

3. Steer clear of matte lipsticks that are either too dry (true mattes) or too glossy (creams). Either extreme highlights signs of age: matte, by emphasizing lines; cream, by bleeding all too easily into them. "A pearlescent formula looks moist and stays put," says Geller.

4. Line your lips with a lip pencil after you apply lipstick. "You'll get a fuller-looking pout than if you do the reverse," says Geller. "To make sure the liner is undetectable, use one that's the same shade as your lip color."

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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