It’s the awards season and
Hollywood celebrities are flashing their perfect, dazzling smiles. But thanks to the advancement of new teeth whitening technology, their gleaming white teeth are more attainable than ever – provided that the discoloration is of an extrinsic variety, meaning that the stains are likely caused by things like coffee, red wine, or smoking.

To help us understand all the options when it comes to teeth whitening and making our smiles pretty, we consulted Dr. Grace Ko of Station Square Dental ( in Vancouver. “Generally, the majority of people find bleaching effective, though it may not be an option for everyone. If you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal gum disease or teeth with worn enamel, your dentist may discourage bleaching,” explains Dr. Ko. But provided we get a go-ahead from our dentists, there are several at-home and professional teeth whitening treatment options to consider, from strips to capsules and pens, to trays, to powerful combinations of bleach and lasers.

Beauty tips: Whitening toothpastes

Achieving a brighter smile may be as simple — and as economical — as switching to a teeth whitening toothpaste. These whitening toothpastes contain abrasives that have the ability to polish the teeth, or chemicals that work to break down existing stains and prevent new ones from adhering to teeth. “These toothpastes are generally safe for daily use; however, they may not be ideal for sensitive teeth as they can increase tooth sensitivity,” explains Dr. Ko. “Always look for a brand that is approved by the Canadian Dental Association.” Try Crest 3D White Toothpaste.

Beauty tips: Whitening Strips

They can be somewhat awkward to keep on your teeth, but using bleaching strips is the simplest at-home solution to getting a whiter smile. These store-bought teeth whitening products contain a low concentration of peroxide and provide rapid results. Out of all the products, Crest 3D Whitestrips have the highest concentration (10%) of peroxide, making them the most effective of the strip variety. However, individuals with sensitive teeth might find some treatments to be too irritable to follow through to the end. Dr. Ko warns that “tooth sensitivity and irritation to soft tissues can occur during bleaching treatment, but these effects are usually transient.”

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Beauty tips: Capsules and pens

Another do-it-yourself option is a kit that contains bleaching capsules. “Generally, [capsules] have the lowest concentration of whitening agent. They may not whiten as well as stronger products, but they have less chance of side effects,” says Dr. Ko. The solution is brushed directly onto the teeth, and rinsed off after a few minutes. GO SMiLE has several options, ranging from their Double-Action Whitening System 12-days treatment to a quick and easy ON THE GO Teeth Whitening Pen. Pens are meant to be used as maintenance following a whitening treatment.

Beauty tips: Trays

The whitening treatments usually associated with dental offices come in the form of whitening mouth trays, such as the highly popular Day White Tray Whitening. “Some patients choose dentist supervised at-home bleaching,” says Dr. Ko. This usually involves the construction of a custom made tray to hold the whitening agent. However, there are some over-the-counter options to consider, like Rembrandt’s speedy 2 Hour Whitening Kit, and the newest product on the market, Tanda, a tray that gives you the option of a 5-day treatment or a 50-minute one, and even comes with a time counter.

Beauty tips: Lasers

“If you’re in a hurry for whiter teeth, you may decide to have your teeth bleached immediately. Your dentist will use either an in-office bleaching system or ‘laser’ bleaching while you sit in the dental chair,” explains Dr. Ko. A solution of whitening agent is applied to your teeth and a high-powered light/heat is used to accelerate the whitening process. These laser treatments, like the ever-so-popular Zoom! (a powerful tool on ABC’s
Extreme Makeover), are the most expensive options that can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000, depending on the condition of the teeth.

Our expert also advises that if one wants to make their bleaching process more effective, one should abstain from pigmented foods (like blueberries) or drinks (like red wine) during the duration of the treatment. She also warns that existing crowns or fillings will not respond to whitening agents, and that one should be aware of this particularly if they have had any dental work done on front of their teeth. Before proceeding with any treatments, “always know the condition of your teeth and gums,” warns Dr. Ko.

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