How To Get That Sparkling Smile You’ve Always Wanted

A top dentist explains the safe way to improve your smile


Ali Eaves |

Your first impression really comes down to one thing: Your smile. So it’s no wonder that everyone wants a whiter one.

Most bleaches—both over-the-counter and professional products—use some form of peroxide as the active ingredient, says Men’s Health Dentistry Adviser, Dr Mark Wolff.

Related: 9 Ways You Stain Your Teeth Without Even Knowing It

Professional whiteners tend to be more concentrated, so they work faster, says Dr. Wolff. You could have white teeth in one hour with a light-based whitening treatment, which uses a special light to speed up the bleaching process. Your dentist can also custom make you retainer-like trays that you wear for anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight for one to two weeks, Dr. Wolff says.

Over-the-counter whitening kits—like the strips, gels, and paint-on liquids you see in the drugstore—can also work well, he says. But since they’re typically less concentrated, your results may be less dramatic.

Related: This Guy Tried Using Home Remedies For Whitening His Teeth. Here’s What Happened

It comes down to how much you’re willing to spend: Professional bleaching can cost between R4000 and R6000, Dr. Wolff says, while over-the-counter products like Crest Whitestrips or Rembrandt 2-Hour Whitening Kit may cost under R500.

Ready to splurge? Just make an appointment with your dentist.

But if you want to DIY your smile, heed these precautions.

Related: Try These 9 Ways To Make Your Teeth Whiter

1. Don’t bleach if your teeth are grey.
Bleach works on teeth with yellow or brown discoloration, which is usually caused by food stains, Dr. Wolff says.

But it won’t do much for grey teeth, which may be genetic or due to antibiotics. Talk to your dentist to find a solution—veneers may be your only option.

2. Don’t bleach if your teeth are already sensitive.
Over-the-counter products will probably just lead to more pain. See your dentist: He or she may be able to give you a treatment that is safe for sensitive teeth, Dr. Wolff says.

Related: This R10 Habit Could Save You Hundreds In Dental Bills

3. Stop after two weeks or if you experience side effects.
Bleaching has possible side effects. The peroxide can irritate your gums or make your teeth sensitive to hot and cold. If either of those things happen, stop bleaching immediately, says Dr. Wolff. The problems usually subside when you stop bleaching.

Bleaching too much increases your risk for side effects, so if you’ve used over-the-counter whiteners for two weeks and your teeth aren’t as bright as you want them, see your dentist.

This article was originally published on menshealth.com

READ MORE ON: dental care grooming oral care teeth tooth whitening