All the white moves

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Party season is around the corner and you want to look your best. Little black dress? Check. Dangly earrings? Check. Dazzling white teeth? Well, two out of three ain’t bad. Luckily, there’s a wide array of teeth whitening products out there to help you get the pearliest whites around. Here’s how to choose the right product for you:

Step one: Check your bank balance
You’ll find the most powerful whitening procedures, such as power or laser bleaching, at your dentist’s office. They’re also the most expensive, ringing in at between $350 and $1200. That can really add up when you consider that many whitening procedures—including the do-it-yourself variety—need to be repeated once or twice a year for best results.

Step two: Consider your dental history
Experts say over-the-counter (OTC) bleaching gels and strips are effective, but they don’t whiten dental work such as veneers or bridges. And, if you have sensitive teeth, abrasive and peroxide-based ingredients in whitening products—even toothpastes and flosses—may irritate them further.

Step three: Talk to your dentist
She’ll be able to tell you whether inexpensive whitening gums and toothpastes will work for you, based on the degree of staining and the state of your tooth enamel. To find out more about OTC teeth whitening products, pick up the December 2003 issue of Chatelaine at your newsstand.

Step four: Shine on
Whatever whitening option you choose, your choppers will stay brighter longer if you brush your teeth at least twice a day. Avoid tobacco altogether and limit your intake of teeth-discolouring tea, coffee and red wine.