Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Oral Care

Font Size

Whiten Your Teeth At Home

Turn your grin into a dazzler and fast with these expert lip tips and teeth-whitening treatments

Which products work best to brighten your smile continued...

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute compared the performances of three paint-on teeth whiteners to a leading over-the-counter whitener and found that if you have sensitive teeth, the paint-on whiteners were the better choice. Testers used the products for either one or two weeks, according to the package directions. They gave GoSmile Advanced Formula B1 ($89, Sephora) high marks for its simplicity (pull out a pellet, snap it, and apply) and because, in most cases, it caused the least tooth sensitivity. "I liked the easy use [of GoSmile]," said one woman. "It was portable and not messy." Yet, while our volunteers thought GoSmile whitened effectively, it was outperformed by the control product in our laboratory before-and-after shade evaluations.

Toothpastes and toothbrushes brighten teeth a shade or two at most. A toothbrush featuring an oscillating motion will give you better results than a manual toothbrush, says Dr. Gerlach. But you have to brush for the recommended two minutes (Americans, on average, brush for well under a minute). As for whitening toothpastes, the most effective ones include ingredients that prevent new stains from sticking to teeth, like Colgate Total Advanced Whitening ($3.49, drugstores).
Mouthwash, the latest tooth brightener on the market, can swish away only the most superficial stains, since it doesn't stay in contact with teeth for very long. (In fact, if you don't use tobacco or drink coffee, tea, colas, or red wine, you may not need it.) Try Listerine Whitening Vibrant White Pre-Brush Rinse ($6.15, drugstores).

What more can a dentist do?

They make custom bleaching trays for at-home use, and they can apply a masking gel or dam to protect gums during stronger, in-office treatments. Many dentists have accelerated bleaching options that get teeth up to 10 shades lighter in a single visit (cost starts at about $400). Zoom! and BriteSmile are the two most popular. These use light to pump up the effects of double-digit-strength peroxide. However, any dramatic whitening can fade quickly without at-home maintenance (usually a tray, whitening strips, or toothpaste). You also have to watch what you eat and drink for a couple of days, since tooth enamel is very receptive to new color for the first 48 hours after a bleaching treatment.

Makeup tricks to make teeth look more white

3 Tips for Great Lips

  • Wipe out flakes. Smooth lips by gently rubbing them with a damp washcloth or soft toothbrush, then apply lip balm, suggests Jo Strettell, makeup artist for Rimmel. If the rough patches persist, it may actually be a reaction to the fragrance in your lip balm or lipstick. "Chronically peeling lips are often a sign of an allergy," says Santa Monica dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., who suggests switching to a hypoallergenic product.
  • Disguise lip lines. Exfoliation and hydration are also key to smoothing lip lines. Try a thick balm or hydrating treatment like Le Couvent des Minimes Nutritive Lip Balm ($10, department stores). Then slick on a shiny gloss or lipstick; matte formulas can get caught in the creases.
  • Fake fullness. Lip-plumping glosses are a fun way to fill out thin lips. They rely on ingredients — like cinnamon — that temporarily swell the skin. For best results, apply them to a bare mouth. "There's no downside as long as you're not allergic to the plumping ingredient," says Dr. Shamban. Try FusionBeauty LipFusion ($36, Sephora) or Prestige Wonder-Full Lip Plumping Gloss ($6; drugstores). Or opt for a gloss with shimmer to give lips a more 3-D look.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

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.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

close up of woman sticking out tongue
Sores, discoloration, bumps and more.
toothbrushes
10 secrets to a brighter smile.
 
Veneer smile
Before and after.
Woman checking her bite in mirror
Why dental care is important.
 

Woman dissatisfied with granola bar
Slideshow
woman with jaw pain
Quiz
 
eroded front teeth
Slideshow
brushing teeth
Video
 

Variety shades of tea
Slideshow
mouth and dental instruments
Article
 
Closeup of a happy young guy brushing his teeth
Tool
womans smile
Video