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The Best Teeth Whiteners to Up Your Smile's Wattage

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Esther and her pearly whites; photo by Modecki Photography

Keeping teeth sparkly white can be a challenge. For me, my daily coffee (and nightly red wine) prevents my teeth from naturally maintaining bright-white" status. I started a teeth whitening regimen in my teens because it helped me feel more confident showing my toothy grin both in the water and in front of the camera. I've since added a few more tricks since I married my husband and gained a dentist as father-in-law. The good news is that one big overhaul per year plus some easy, daily maintenance (i.e. drinking coffee through a straw, brushing teeth twice daily) equals a dazzling smile that you can always carry as your best accessory.

The Crest whitestrips were my first foray into at-home teeth whitening. And the products have come a long way. These 3D White Intensive Professional Effects Whitestrip, $59.99 (was $64.99), achieve results after only 1 use—and "professional results" in 7 days. Because the strips must be worn for two hours per day for a week, so make sure you can carve out that time. The application is a little tricky (try to avoid tongue contact with the gel) but becomes second nature after a few hits and misses.

The Pearl Gentle White Iconic Teeth Whitening System, $195, is more expensive that the Crest strips but easier to use and gentler on sensitive teeth. And the smaller time commitment makes it worth it: 5 days of 5-minute treatments. Note: the result with the sensitive formula is not as stark white as Pearl's Brilliant White System.

For daily maintenance, the Crest Pro-Health Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste keeps the white going in between treatments. It's definitely not going to do the heavy lifting but it's the best management tool and maximizes the return on a treatment's time and money investments.

The Supersmile Professional Whitening Gum, $5, is another maintenance tool to prevent the white from fading. The gum is sweetened with Xylitol and uses Calprox to keep enamel shiny and white. Pop one into your mouth for a quick chew after meals to wipe away stain-creating residue.
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