But there are those of us who rather not spend hundreds of dollars on teeth whitening products or laser treatments that promise us bright whites like our favorite Hollywood stars, only to leave our gums sore and teeth stained.
Editor turned blogger Cat Marnell can definitely relate to this beauty dilemma. After paying a visit to a renowned celebrity dentist for a routine cleaning and whitening, Marnell ended up getting neither and made to feel secure about her "gummy smile."
In spite of her dreadful dentist experience, she remains confident enough to share some of her go-to teeth whitening products:
Arm & Hammer Dental Care Whitening Plus Booster With Enamel Care
This stuff WORKS. Oh, how I love it. It's like a white strip in a gel that you use every day for daily maintenance. All it is is a clear, tasteless (it tells dirty jokes! No, I just tell stupid ones.) gel that you add on top of your toothpaste on your toothbrush when you brush your -- redundancy alert! -- teeth. You notice the difference right away -- seriously, after one use -- and then it keeps getting better and better. Someone who sees me every day noticed right off the bat and asked if I was using white strips -- more on those in a second -- but no, I'd just been using the booster gel for five days. Bonus: This is a great incentive to get you (fine, me) to brush your teeth at night, when many of us tend to laze out and skip the whole thing. And you'll want to smile more. Oh, and it's only $5! I got it at the supermarket, but you can order it at the link above if you can't find it. Drugstore.com: best website ever.
Crest 3D Vivid Whitestrips
OK, you're probably all "Duh, Cat, Crest White Strips. Tell me something I don't already know." But what you don't know is that I've tried everything. EVERYTHING! I've tried the strips from all of the other brands on the drugstore shelf. I've tried the weird ampules that cost a zillion dollars that come in the really glam packaging at Sephora. I've been fitted for the custom molds at the dentist and oozed them full of gross gel and gagged on them in my sleep at night. And you know what? I keep coming back to Crest. They're awesome. They're the original. The brand keeps honing the formula, and while there are a whole bunch of them to choose from -- at all different price points -- I usually choose the cheaper box, with the easiest-option whitening plan (i.e., 10 strips, 30 minutes just once a day) like those in the set seen above. They work, they work, they work. And while they work best when you use them as directed -- in order, every day, for 10 straight days -- you can also use them sporadically, like before a wedding, or whenever it is you want to look hot. I personally am never invited to weddings, but sometimes I'm invited to a special function at a bar or something, and I slap on a top and bottom strip for a big whitening boost while I take my shower. And it all adds up. The more you use these, the better your teeth look. End of story. They're the best! Next ...
Rembrandt Whitening Mint Toothpaste With Fluoride -- Intense Stain
Once again, I speak with authority about the brilliance and superiority of THIS particular toothpaste because I have been privy to every toothpaste in the world. $44 whitening toothpaste, French toothpaste, Italian toothpaste, toothpaste sold only in dentists' offices ... And this one is really the best for right-away whitening. It tastes good, but not too deliciously good (which I like because I never trust that), and it has micro-particles that sort of exfoliate the stains from your teeth without stripping the enamel (in fact, this toothpaste is good for enamel). I like to switch it up with my breath-freshening obsession toothpaste, the very awesome Listerine Essential Care Toothpaste Gel in Powerful Mint. Like, if you're going to be making out with anyone, the Listerine toothpaste is the way to go. It's agonizingly minty in that uniquely torturous way that makes any Listerine product so fabulously great, and it makes fresh breath last and last. (Although it's increasingly hard to find in stores -- what's up with that, Listerine?) But for everyday whitening, I'm a Rembrandt woman all the way.
For more of Marnell's favorite teeth whitening products, check out Lemondrop's Secrets of a Former Beauty Editor -- The All-Time Best Teeth Whiteners.
And if you're not sure whether teeth whitening is for you, read this AOL Health article on the downsides of whitening before you get started.