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Best Tips and Tools to Whiten Your Smile

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

All the White Moves

The biggest smile booster, bar none, is whitening. In-office treatments, which range from laser- and light-activated bleaching to veneers, provide dramatic improvement, but they also come with a hefty price tag ($300 - $5,000). "But if your teeth just need a little pick-me-up, you'll probably be fine with an over-the-counter bleaching product," says Apa. One he particularly likes: the new Crest 3D 2 Hour Express Whitestrips ($55 for four; drugstores). Like in-office treatments, at-home bleaches oxidize stain molecules with hydrogen peroxide - or ingredients that break down into it - albeit in lower concentrations. The other kinds of at-home whiteners - whitening toothpastes or rinses - use polishing and other non-bleach agents to either scrub off or chemically remove stains that are closer to the surface.

Whether you whiten with a toothpaste, strip, or rinse, you're not likely to sensitize or harm your teeth: "The old bleaches that abraded have been discontinued," says Apa. Any sensitivity you experience should subside as soon as you stop whitening, he says. While whiteners don't lighten bonds, veneers, and other dental work, certain brands, like Go Smile, Supersmile, and Glo, do remove stains on artificial tooth surfaces. A few more products to try: Colgate Total Advanced Whitening Gel ($3.80, drugstores); Supersmile Whitening Professional Whitening System ($36, supersmile.com), and, as of next month, from Jonathan Levine, D.M.D., the GLO, a light-activated home whitening system that claims to mimic in-office results ($275, Sephora).

Originally published on January 7, 2011

Related content at Goodhousekeeping.com

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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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