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How much does it suck that some of our favorite things — coffee, red wine, even berries — are most responsible for staining and dulling our pearly whites? We're not much for moderation — you can pry our iced coffees and after-dinner wine from our cold, dead hands, thankyouverymuch — so needless to say, we're big fans of at-home teeth whitening.
Hold up, we know what you're thinking: You've tried those ill-fitting trays and cumbersome strips and all they left you with was a (literal) bad taste in your mouth and overly-sensitive teeth. But there have been some serious advances in the whitening category, of late, including some new high-tech devices, better-quality strips, and natural options that are actually effective. These new methods have made it easier than ever to whiten your teeth at home, provided you are committed to the cause.
" At-home teeth whitening requires a commitment to follow a strict daily regimen for a few consecutive days, to get the realistic result one is looking for, so you have to have the time and discipline — you can't do it haphazardly or inconsistently," says Dr. Pankaj Singh, clinical director at Arch Dental Associates in NYC. "Expect to really devote an hour a day, every day, for a few consecutive days to really do it correctly, to be able to see a difference."
If you've never whitened your teeth at home, Dr. Singh has a few words of wisdom for you. "Unrealistic expectations might set you up for disappointment," he says. "Expect teeth to be whiter than they were before the whitening, but don't expect them to be whiter than the 'whites of your eyes.'" He also adds that teeth whitening is something that needs to be done periodically to maintain the shade initially achieved — food stains will accumulate over time, which will lead to yellowing and dulling if you don't keep up the maintenance.
Here, we've rounded up some of the best new strips, gadgets, gums, and pastes that promise to make your teeth look dazzling. From ion trays to clay-based cleaners, check out the newest, most convenient ways to add some sparkle to your smile.