Your smile tells a story. "White teeth are a sign of success and social status, and they're a direct link to your confidence," says Jonathan B. Levine, D.M.D., director for continuing education in aesthetic dentistry at NYU. So ask yourself three questions: How bad do they look, how quickly do you want them fixed, and how much are you willing to spend?
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FOR THE LAZY MAN
Colgate Optic White Enamel White Toothpaste
You already brush, right? So switching pastes is easy. The results won't be as dramatic, of course. Fluoride and hydrogen peroxide are the most important ingredients to look for in a whitening toothpaste, says Dr. Levine, and most pastes already contain fluoride. But this has both, so it's ideal for no-hassle whitening.
Cost: $4, drugstores
Time commitment: Aside from normal brushing, none
Results: In about 1 week
(Life is sweet, all rightso sweet that each of us will eat the sugar equivalent of 6,047 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups in the next 12 months. Prevent a decay disaster and avoid these 12 Foods Your Dentist Wouldnt Eat.)
FOR THE HIGH-TECH GUY
Go Smile Smile Whitening Light
A whitening light mimics the technology used by the professionals, but it costs less. Just flip on an episode of Archer to distract yourself while the light blasts your teeth and activates the gel's hydrogen peroxide. You'll have a whiter smile by the time the credits roll.
Cost: $130, gosmile.com
Time commitment: 30 minutes, as frequently as once a week or as needed
Results: After one session
(Want to keep that shiny smile and fresh breath all day long? Read the 4 Rules for Brighter, Whiter Teeth.)
FOR THE BIG SPENDER
GLO Science Professional
The advantage of in-office treatment is the stronger formulations. An office like Dr. Levine's uses 18 percent peroxide, versus the 3 to 10 percent usually found in DIY kits. The final results are better, and the procedure won't irritate sensitive teeth.
Cost: $500-$700, various U.S. locations or see if your dentist has the technology
Time commitment: One 45-minute session, up to twice a year as needed
Results: After one visit
Learn how protecting your gums and teeth could help prevent skin cancer, heart disease by reading The 8 Biggest Oral-Care Problems.
FOR THE BARGAIN BUYER
Rembrandt Deeply White 2 Hour Whitening Kit
Used strips in the past? Try switching to trays. They hold whitening gel in place better and extend all the way to your back molars. (Just in case a potential employer checks.) The upside to biting into the goop is that you'll see results within a couple of hours.
Cost: $25, drugstores
Time commitment: 2 hours, every month to 6 months
Results: After one session of four circuits. (A circuit is 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off.)
(For ways to keep tabs on your pearly whites, check out The Best New Teeth Products for Men.)
More from MSN Healthy Living:
- Your guide to healthy teeth
- 8 signs you might need dentures
- Eating smart for your whole body
- Bing: Foods that help your teeth
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