In the grueling race against time and gravity (and their effects on our appearances), we often don’t look past wrinkles, age spots and sagging. But according to Jonathan Levine, DMD, dentist, prosthodontist and founder of at-home teeth whitening device Glo Science, our teeth are in fact one of the first few areas that give away our age. “Most people think anti-aging only refers to skin-firming creams, facelifts and covering up gray strands,” he says. “But the truth is that the mouth (the teeth, in particular) is one of the areas where the effects of aging are most noticed. Over time the enamel wears down, teeth turn yellow, crack, become shorter and acquires blunt edges, which can impact a person’s overall appearance.”
No wonder teeth bleaching remains one of the most popular cosmetic treatments available today. According to the most recent state of the industry report published by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, requests for teeth whitening services continue to rise year over year, making it one of the top procedures offered by cosmetic dentists, along with crowns, bonding and veneers.
While professional teeth whitening is still the fastest way to reverse yellow or discolored teeth, there are a few things you can do at home to restore radiance to your smile. From at-home teeth-whitening devices to oral care products with natural teeth-lightening ingredients to lipsticks that make yellow teeth look a couple of shades brighter, here are some quick and dirty tips to make your teeth instantly whiter and your smile 100% better.
A bright smile starts with a good oral routine. This seems like a no-brainer but there really is no shortcut to healthy teeth and gums. For best results, dentists recommend flossing and brushing your teeth with a gentle toothbrush and a whitening toothpaste, like Marvis Whitening Mint Toothpaste, at least twice a day.
If brushing your teeth after a meal isn’t possible, swish water in your mouth for 30 seconds to dislodge food particles and keep them from staining your teeth. Even better: Use a whitening rinse like PerioSciences AO Pro Rinse White Care, which features citrus extracts and micro-minerals to make your teeth more resistant to food acids.
Even with the best oral care routine, it will be hard to reverse teeth discoloration without a professional dental procedure. But if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars—or countless hours sitting in your dentist’s chair—on a professional treatment, there are teeth-whitening devices you can use at home that are not that expensive. GLO Science GLO Brilliant Personal Teeth Whitening Device, for one, is created by a dentist and is designed to make your teeth at least five shades whiter in just one week.
You know already that certain beverages like coffee, wine and soda can stain your teeth, but did you know that certain food can actually help protect your teeth from discoloration? Broccoli and kale, for example, contain minerals that help protect teeth against stains. Chomping hard, raw fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots stimulate saliva flow, which washes away food acids and bacteria. You can also try chewing a whitening gum like Supersmile Professional Whitening Gum, which, aside from ramping up saliva, also contains stain-fighting calprox.
For best results, complement your bright-smile routine with a teeth-whitening pen. These bad boys are easy to apply and easy to stash in your purse, so you can use it wherever, whenever. Most pens contain hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent, but not everyone—especially those with sensitive gums—can tolerate it. If you’re one of those, opt for Dr. Brite Peroxide Free Teeth Whitening Pen, which brightens teeth just as effectively using natural ingredients and without any harsh ingredients.
For whiter teeth, steer clear of yellow-toned reds or pale pink shades, which tend to accentuate stains on the teeth. Instead, reach for a lipstick with a blue undertone like Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor Lipstick, which appears topaz blue in the tube but actually reveals a subtle, deep berry tint upon application. Aside from berry, lipstick with wine and cherry hues in it can make yellow teeth appear whiter than they really are.
Your lips serve as the backdrop for your smile, so as you think of ways to whiten your teeth, don’t forget to take care of your lips as well. Dry, chapped lips not only look unsightly, they are also uncomfortable. To get smoother lips, start by sloughing off dead skin cells with a lip scrub, then repair and replenish moisture with a nourishing lip balm. Nurse Jamie NuLips RX Moisturizing Lip Balm + Exfoliating Brush is a good product for this because it does both functions at the same time.