Skip to main content

Red-Carpet Smiles: 12 Teeth Whitening Facts You Need to Know So You Don't Waste Your Cash

  • Author:
  • Updated:
12 teeth whitening facts you NEED to know_Heidi Klum_emmys 2012

Dazzling white teeth are usually the most popular accessories at any celebrity event. Heidi Klum's red-carpet smile at the Emmys is a great example. (Sure, there are a few yellowed exceptions, but only a few.) If whiter teeth are on your wish list, there are teeth whitening facts you need to know before you get started so you don't waste your cash.

I have a column on teeth whitening facts coming out in tomorrow's print edition of The Kit, which you'll find in select Toronto Star papers in the GTA, and other dailies such as The Vancouver Sun, The Calgary Herald, and (on Friday) The Montréal Gazette. You can also download print editions here.

Until I can direct you to the story -- er -- directly... here are 12 teeth whitening facts you need to know. Some will be news, trust.

teeth whitening facts... about peroxide

  • Whitening still works only on natural teeth. No crowns or caps, I'm sorry.
  • Peroxide is the most common means of making stains on your teeth disappear. According to Svetlana Farrell, R&D Scientist at Procter & Gamble oral care, "the oxygen will oxidize (remove electrons from) the stain molecules to make them colorless."
  • According to cosmetic dentist Dr. Ed Philips of The Studio for Aesthetic Dentistry in Toronto, peroxide dehydrates the teeth, which is why they look whiter after only a couple of days of your whitening progam. Think of the way white fabric looks with a drop of water on it. And it doesn't last long -- they'll rehydrate quickly and return to their starting shade. (What a tip!)
  • If you need extra assurance that peroxide is safe for your enamel, use a toothpaste or rinse with fluoride. Fluoride helps to strengthen enamel.

teeth whitening facts... about home kits

  • If you want long-lasting results -- months-long at least -- you have to follow the directions properly. Literally grin and bear any discomfort; it'll go away in a couple of days after you're done and you won't have to whiten for a stretch afterward.
  • Dr. Philips says you'll get the best, longest-lasting results from trays you get from the dentist. In his experience, patients just kind of fool around with the kits they buy at the drugstore, so they can't expect good results.

teeth whitening facts... for scaredy-tooth cats

  • Sensitive teeth should do well with a slow and steady approach to whitening -- and by that I mean a daily regimen of good surface cleaning
  • An electric or battery-driven toothbrush is waaaay better than manual brushing; you'll benefit from many more brush strokes per minute. Inexpensive options include the Oral-B Pulsar Pro-Health Battery-Powered Toothbrush and the Arm & Hammer Spinbrush Pro Sensitive Battery Powered Toothbrush with softer bristles for senstive teeth, if you're about that.
  • Choose at least a mouthwash with peroxide and flouride. I can tell you from experience that continued use will slowly result in discernibly whiter teeth. Maybe not as white as a more intense treatment, but you will see a difference.
  • Seriously, try the Reach Total Care Whitening Floss. Its key ingredient is baking soda to scrub away at the darkness between teeth. Feels oddly satisfying, leaves teeth feeling really clean. (Baking soda alone, though, can be really harsh.)
  • If you want to brave a drugstore kit, try Crest 3D Whitestrips Gentle Routine for sensitive types, which you'll only have to wear for five minutes per day for 28 days.
  • The Tanda Pearl was amazing for me -- my review of the Tanda Pearl Whitening System is here.

None of the brands I mention on air, in my column for The Kit, or in the next related posts has paid me for an endorsement. I just think they're good products.