Brides following an energy-boosting health routine leading up to the big day might be wondering how all that internal wellness (think concentrated cold-pressed juices, herbal powders, and iced matchas) could darken a once-bright smile. After all, if a turmeric latte has the power to leave a defined yellow ring on the interior of a porcelain mug, think about what it can do to your tooth enamel? But thankfully there are plenty of options to combat the dreaded yellowing of a smile. Below, we talked to the experts on the best teeth whitening treatments, including everything from professional and at-home solutions, to natural alternatives.
“There is a difference between removing stains on the surface versus whitening,” says Dr. Mat Nejad, D.D.S., the Beverly Hills-based cosmetic dentist who spent awards season booked solid by celebs who needed to touch up red-carpet grins. “Whitening actually changes the color of your tooth and makes it whiter than it may have ever been before.” For brides who seek a dramatically whiter smile than their born-with-it color, a roomy window of time is paramount—otherwise, sensitivity becomes an issue. “Best is rarely the fastest,” shares Nejad, who recommends wearing custom trays at night fitted with leak-free barriers to keep “a low concentration of whitening gel” in place while you sleep to work “gently, but very effectively.” Making an appointment a month before the wedding should ensure a slow, steady brightening process since it can take anywhere from one to four weeks to see results. Strapped for time? “If necessary, in office-whitening can also be done a few days before the wedding, but this creates more sensitivity,” he notes. A calendar reminder to book an appointment the month before the date could ensure that every chilly sip of a cocktail doesn’t result in a wince.
If stains are the real focus, Nejad adds that options like non-toxic Oral Essentials Whitening Strips “may be effective in removing dietary stains on the surface,” though South Florida’s Bruce N. Lein, D.D.S. touts an even more natural alternative. Oil pulling, a “traditional Indian folk remedy that practices swirling oil around in your mouth and then spitting it out,” is gaining popularity thanks to its chemical-free recipe. “It usually involves coconut oil, sunflower oil, or sesame seed oil,” Lein explains. “Rinsing should be continued for perhaps five to twenty minutes, so that the edible oil is pulled through the teeth and mouth.” He notes that benefits include whitening teeth and improving gums, and “studies also show that it may also reduce bad breath, bacteria and plaque.” Thankfully, brands have packaged the old-school ingredients for modern use. Poppy and Someday’s Cardamom Oil Pulling recipe includes clove and pink pepper essential oils, while Kopari Beauty’s coconut oil version comes in clever travel packets that can be thrown into a tote for swishing on-the-go (like a post-yoga locker room refresh).
One area where both Nejad and Lein agree? During the month ahead of the date, skipping certain foods can be key. “It’s counterproductive to add heavy staining agents like coffee, tea, and red wine to your diet while trying remove stains and whiten teeth with the treatments,” warns Nejad. Lein seconds those, and adds that even “strawberries, curry and any food made with coloring should be avoided during the whitening process.” And if dietary restrictions feel impossibly high maintenance, brushing immediately after coming in contact with high-risk snacks is essential. For this, the ultra-soft touch of Nimbus handheld brushes are Nejad’s favorite, “the bristles need to reach slightly below the gum, but be soft and gentle to avoid irritation and recession.” For electric updates, Lein recommends Sonicare’s futuristic vibration technology. “A few brands have come out with comparative products marketing the same vibration, but the result is not the same.” And if all else fails, Pop White’s color-correcting toothpaste and toner, though the formula offers long-term brightening, uses a purple tint to cancel out hints of yellow for a short-term, camera-ready optical illusion.