Secrets to a Great Smile

Worried your smile looks more like a five-spot than a million bucks? “Yellow teeth can make you appear 10 years older than you actually are,” says Brian Kantor, D.D.S., a New York City cosmetic dentist.  “And socially, it can be embarrassing to have yellow teeth.” The good news: There are plenty of affordable over-the-counter products that will brighten things up quickly—a fact that's worth smiling about.

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‘A great smile should compliment the face’

“Every smile is unique,” says Kantor. “What looks good in one person’s mouth will not look good in someone else’s mouth. A great smile should complement the face. For example, if someone has a small round face, long and broad teeth would look out of place. Most importantly, a great smile should look natural, whether a person has had dental work or not. Having white teeth is very important, but if your teeth are too white, they can appear fake.”

Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor

Crest 3D 2 Hour Express Whitestrips Dental Whitening Kit

Whether you’re prepping for a big event, have a hot date or just feel the need to brighten things up a bit, these strips ($40, will whiten your teeth in just two hours.

Ultrabrite Advanced Whitening Toothpaste

Consumer Reports rated this cheapie toothpaste ($1, the best at removing stains. Seriously, at just a buck, why wouldn't you give it a try?

Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips

Great for folks with sensitive teeth, these easy-to-use strips ($39, dissolve in just five to 10 minutes, making them fast and mess-free.

Rembrandt Deeply White Peroxide Whitening Mouthwash

Looking for a whitener that also helps strengthen tooth enamel and gives you minty fresh breath? Opt for a whitening mouthwash. This brand ($8, uses a rapid-release liquid peroxide that is said to begin working on contact. Swish away!


Supersmile Professional Whitening System

This kit ($36, includes the brand’s Professional Whitening Toothpaste and Professional Whitening Accelerator for noticeably whiter teeth. 


Watch the Coffee, Wine and Cola

“Certain foods stain teeth,” Kantor says. “The big culprits are coffee, tea, red wine and colas. My recommendation is if someone is a big coffee drinker to put a lot of milk in the coffee and drink it through a straw. It is also good to rinse with water after drinking coffee to help prevent the stain from accumulating. Another trick is to put a thin layer of Vaseline over the teeth before drinking to act as a barrier to the staining products.”

Orbit White Gum

Post Diet-Coke, chew two pieces of this whitening gum ($1, to help prevent tooth stains.


Oral-B Glide 3D White Whitening Plus Scope Flavor Floss

Floss isn’t just useful for getting rid of green things in your teeth—it can help whiten them, too. This floss ($4, helps prevent stains (and plaque) from forming between your teeth and it gives you a minty mouthwash taste when you floss.  


Aquafresh White Trays

 If you’re looking for something stronger than a brightening toothpaste and have not had luck with strips, there are plenty of tray kits on the market. These trays ($28,, are easy to use (they’re pre-filled so you get just the right amount) and the stretchy, curvy trays stay put while you wear them.


Whitening vs. Bleaching

“There is a difference between whitening and bleaching,” Kantor says. “Whitening is making your teeth appear whiter by removing surface stains from the teeth. Bleaching is actually making the teeth whiter than they were with a bleaching product such as hydrogen peroxide. So-called "whitening" toothpastes work by removing surface stains from the teeth, thus making them appear whiter than they are. Even if the toothpaste, mouthwash or floss contains bleaching products such as hydrogen peroxide, this bleaching product doesn’t remain isolated on the teeth long enough to have any long term effects.”

Luster Weekend White

In a rush? Use the Accelerator Mouth Rinse for 10 seconds, then brush on the Super Whitening Gel ($20, morning and night for three days. Then get ready to dazzle.


Philips Sonicare Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush

First step to a great smile? Using the right toothbrush. The Sonicare brush ($190, not only is great for your teeth and gums, but also naturally whitens. Bonus!


Wine Wipes

Ever notice a little purple tinge to your formerly pearly whites after drinking red wine? These handy wipes ($20 for three compacts of 20 wipes, allow you to discreetly wipe the wine away after imbibing. Now, who’s up for another round?

Wine Wipes

Fresh Umbrian Clay Toothpaste

Um, clay? On your teeth? Sounds weird, but this toothpaste ($20,, mostly made from Italian white clay contains pure mint and lemon extracts, promises whiter teeth, too.

Go Smile Whitening Light System

Want quick results without going to the dentist's office? This system ($198, combines a hand-held LED-lit mouthpiece and the company’s whitening ampules to brighten your teeth in just 30 minutes.

Go Smile

Brace Yourself

“Most adults who want to correct their crowded teeth aren’t wearing braces—they're wearing Invisalign," says Kantor. "Invisalign are clear trays that can take the place of braces and move the teeth by changing the trays every two weeks. Many adults are also using porcelain veneers to straighten their teeth. The porcelain veneers only take two weeks from start to finish, and can not only straighten the teeth but can also change the color and shape of the teeth.”


Tom's of Maine Simply White Natural Fluoride Toothpaste

For those who prefer natural products, this whitening toothpaste ($5, uses, well, natural ingredients to whiten without harsh abrasives, making it a great choice when you have sensitive gums.

‘...Veneers, the Rolls Royce of cosmetic dentistry’

“The best way to get gleaming teeth is to have veneers, the Rolls Royce of cosmetic dentistry,” Kantor says. “Beautiful, natural-looking veneers can vastly improve your smile. Veneers should be translucent, a soft natural white with a high glaze and should be harmonious with the face, giving the appearance you were born with these gorgeous teeth. Veneers can correct dark stained teeth, crooked teeth, short teeth, a narrow arch, an aging smile and, if done correctly, can transform any smile into a beautiful one."

Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor

Clinique High Impact Lip Colour in Red-y to Wear

Clinique had women try on different shades of lipstick and then asked a dentist to compare the whiteness of their teeth before and after applying. This ($15, is one of 12 shades shown to make teeth look at least one shade brighter. Pucker up!


But your teeth aren't only thing that should dazzle this season. For notice-me toenails, click here to check out summer's most-coveted nail lacquers.


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First Published July 25, 2011

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