- Chill Out
The active ingredient in whitening products—hydrogen peroxide—works better when it’s cold. Stash your whitening strips or trays in the fridge instead of in the bathroom cabinet and they’ll be even more effective.
- See A Dentist First
Not for whitening, but for a professional cleaning. The cleaner your teeth are (i.e. the less plaque is built-up on the service), the less residue there is to interfere with the active ingredients in your whitening products. Your best bet is to start a whitening regimen after your semi-annual dental visit; the professional cleaning removes more gunk than at-home brushing. If that’s not feasible, give yourself a thorough brushing with an electric toothbrush, and don’t forget to floss. Leftover discoloration in the cracks may not be super visible, but will make the overall appearance look dingy.
- Don’t Undo the Effects
You likely already know that staining foods and drinks are a no-no after you whiten, but try and avoid them during the process, too. For example, if you’re using a product that works over two weeks, try to steer clear of stainers for that whole time period (common culprits include coffee, tea, and red wine). If you have to get, your daily java fix, sip through a straw—this helps minimize the amount of the staining beverage that makes contact with (and discolors) the front side of your teeth.
- Tone Down Sensitivity
If your teeth are on the sensitive side, it can be a serious deterrent to whitening. Avoiding acidic drinks and foods (tomatoes, OJ) can help—they weaken the enamel and make it more likely that you’ll experience painful zingers.
- Wait to Brush
While it may seem counterintuitive (after all, you’re supposed to brush after eating, right?), wait at least 30 minutes after eating to brush. Any sooner and you risk actually pushing the staining food particles into your teeth…effectively undoing any whitening benefits. Instead, rinse with water right after eating and save brushing for later.
- Light It Up
In-office procedures are effective not only because they contain a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide, but also because most treatments use a light to help activate the ingredients. The at-home version? Luster Pro Light Dental Whitening System, which uses the same technology as what’s used in dental offices. Rinse your teeth with the included rinse before applying the peroxide-based serum. Hold the light an inch away from your teeth for two minutes, then repeat the process until you get to your desired level of whitening. You get professional results, without ever having to leave home.