My Secret To White Teeth Is Also My Best Fitness Tip

You can buy beauty and willpower from the plastic display cases at your local CVS.
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Publish date:
October 1, 2013
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teeth, smiles, at home tooth whitening, whitening kits

I get a lot of questions about my teeth, because they really are so huge and white.

And while I come from the J. Zaleski school of tooth-brushing, I do do certain things and use certain products to maintain their brightness. (I always remember my friend's mother, a dental hygienist, telling me that it's not about how often you brush your teeth, it's about how well you brush your teeth. I go hard for a full two minutes, getting every nook and cranny. I've never had a cavity AND I was super-bulimic for about a decade. Basically, what I'm saying is that I'm a champion tooth-brusher.)

Notice I said "brightness" and not "whiteness." I've noticed, through years and years of experimenting with drugstore whitening kits, that a color, or even a shade change is never going to happen. This is a good thing--have you ever seen anybody with WHITE teeth? It's not attractive, and their name was probably something like Lance or Chad and they probably voice a morning radio program.

I've gone by the rule that you never want your teeth to be whiter than the whites of your eyes. In fact, if they match you're skirting the line between natural beauty and The OC Real Housewives. ("Slade.")

So when you see whitening infomercials claiming "shade" changes, this isn't totally accurate. To change the shade of a color you add or subtract blackness. Bleaching or "whitening" your teeth isn't going to do that, despite the semantics. But, you can easily lighten stains and make teeth appear brighter or more luminous and the color more even.

I'm not a huge fan of quick-fix whitening kits. They do serve a purpose, but my gums are very sensitive. The good stuff, like the Rembradt kit I'm about to cover, will cause the least amount of discomfort if used correctly, but every store brand I've tried has burned holes in my gums. (Scary stuff. I thought about seeing a doctor, but luckily they healed on their own within a couple of days.)

For the sake of experimentation and demonstration, I used Rembrandt's 2 Hour Whitening Kit at the office yesterday. The kit comes with two moldable trays and eight capsules of whitening gel, four for the top and four for the bottom. You apply one set of capsules to the teeth using the molded trays for 20 minutes, rinse, and wait 10 minutes before moving on to the next set. I've photographed the 4-step progression, the top photo being the "before."

You can see that my teeth started out pretty dull (well, glossy, thanks to the spit), greenish and uneven, and ended up brighter and more uniform. They still have a yellow tint overall, but this keeps them looking natural instead of like porcelain Chiclets. Not a huge change at all for a progression-type photo series, but the brightness makes a huge difference in an IRL smile.

I did, and do still feel gum discomfort almost 24 hours later. The after photo was taken a day later, so the redness has faded. My bottom gums are pretty sore, but no holes or sores. Yaaaaaaayyy....

What's more realistic for me in the quest for a bright and shiny smile is maintaining the brightness over time. I do this by always using a whitening toothpaste and having white strips, or a kit like the 2-hour one on hand to use in pieces gradually over time instead of all at once. Using them this way is much gentler on your teeth and gums, so I feel like the maintenance route is a better option overall.

I die for Rembrandt's Intense Stain Whitening Toothpaste. It's the best consistency ever, tastes great, and really does prevent and fade stains and brighten teeth. I ran out a month ago, leaving me with the cheap Acme-brand toothpaste that Brayden's roommate uses (seriously NO respect for me or my needs... jerk), and the resulting "before" photo above.

The whitening strips/kit is where my fitness tip comes into play. I like to have these on hand to whiten my teeth whenever I find myself surrounded by stoners.

I just let the strips do their thing while the zombies feast on pizza and Thai food and whatever else will deliver at that hour. Do you know where I'd be at wardrobe-wise if I didn't whiten my teeth under these circumstances? I own literally three things with elastic waistbands and two of them are black leggings that have been washed enough times to render them completely sheer. The other is a Wang pencil skirt and in what world would that EVER qualify as an I'm-feeling-fat option? White strips: when willpower isn't enough.

What's your dude name and/or the coolest dude name ever?