brighten your smile
Nothing turns back time like a brighter smile. “Teeth get yellow and darker as you age,” says Glen Graffeo, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist in New York City. “They accumulate a lifetime of staining from things like berries, soy sauce, red wine, coffee, and tea.” Plus, after years of brushing, eating, and contact with the natural acids in your mouth, the enamel wears off and the darker inner layer, called dentin, shows through. You can whiten teeth (but not crowns, caps, fillings, or veneers) with white strips or bleaching agents, which may cause temporary sensitivity. To help that, use a toothpaste like Sensodyne for at least one week before whitening.
WHAT TO DO
• Light-activated bleaching is done at your dentist’s office, costs $500 to $1,000, and lasts one to five years.
• White strips, pieces of thin plastic covered with a lightening agent, can be used at home. Your smile will noticeably brighten in a week or two.
• Trays with a lightening agent can also be used at home and take 20 minutes to four hours, depending on the product. Custom-made mouth guards ($400–$1,000) are more precise—and pricier—than drugstore kits (about $25–$35).
• Taking good care of your lips will really show off your smile. Use a washcloth or lip exfoliator to remove flaky skin and slather on an anti-aging lip balm before bed.