What’s the quickest way to make your teeth look whiter? “Dark lipstick!” says Dr. Matthew Messina, a dentist and American Dental Association consumer adviser spokesman. “It’s about contrast. If your teeth are reasonably white to begin with, dark or vivid-color lipstick will make them seem whiter.” Shades of red or pink with blue undertones are best for making teeth look whiter. Beige, orange or red shades with yellow undertones will tend to make the teeth look more yellow.
The lipstick trick is especially good for women whose teeth and/or gums are too sensitive for chemical whitening agents. Women who have had tooth restoration such as bonding or crowns also may have to steer clear of bleaching and go with a bold lipstick color instead.
For significantly yellow teeth, the fastest and most effective method of whitening is a one-day chemical bleaching session in the dentist’s office. You can accomplish this quickly, depending on how fast you can get an appointment.
“Another thing that’s good about it is that gum sensitivity is not an issue,” Messina says. “That’s because the gums are masked off, so the chemicals come in contact only with the teeth.”
The procedure, however, is expensive (around $650 on average) and is generally not covered by insurance. People with teeth that have become discolored from injury, systemic problems or the use of tetracycline may not be good candidates for any type of bleaching. Consult your dentist to discuss the best treatment plan for you.
Tooth-whitening tray systems, which are generally fitted by a dentist but used at home, are very effective at whitening teeth within two weeks, says Messina. They tend to cost about half of what an in-office, one-day treatment would. Over-the-counter white strips are “pretty good for touch-ups,” he notes, and cost about $40 for 14 once-a-day treatment strips.
Whitening toothpastes can be fairly effective as well, Messina says, if you’re trying to maintain a recent whitening treatment. The home remedy of baking soda scrubbed onto the teeth with a toothbrush? Not so much. “It’s just not that effective,” he says.
What’s the best advice for anyone using a whitening treatment? Don’t overdo it. “My dentist told me I shouldn’t whiten my teeth any lighter than the whites of my eyes,” says bride-to-be Emily Lanford of Philadelphia. “I’m taking her advice and will only do a little touch-up for my wedding in July. I want to look like my natural, best self.”
Looking like your natural, best self: the best way to be happy on your wedding day and with the photos you’ll enjoy for years to come.
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