Get bright white teeth with these tips
Whitening is the easiest way to take years off your smile, says Dr. Kimberly Harms, American Dental Association consumer advisor, and many are taking advantage. "Especially the baby boom generation," Harms says.
To brighten your grin, follow these tips:
Take care of your teeth first. Get cavities, gum disease, and sensitive or cracked teeth treated before whitening, which can aggravate problems. "If you have decay, the bleaching is not going to help," Harms says. You can't whiten tooth-colored fillings, crowns or anything else that isn't tooth enamel.
Consult your dentist. Even if you plan to use an over-the-counter product, your dentist can pinpoint the cause of teeth discoloration and recommend a fix.
Explore your options. A whitening toothpaste may be enough to remove surface stains. For more concentrated bleaching, Dr. Bob Tigani, a highly rated dentist in Washington, D.C., recommends over-the-counter whitening strips, the highest strength available, or whitening trays from your dentist. They're more expensive, but results can last years.
Follow directions. Apart from in-office bleaching, most methods require some do-it-yourself. Be mindful of instructions and persistent tooth sensitivity or gum irritation. "If either one of those happens, stop using the product and call your dentist," Tigani says.