If your smile isn't sparkling like it used to, it could be those toasty drinks you've indulged in all season long that are to blame.
Unlike summertime brews that we typically sip through straws, winter months spent drinking such tooth-stainers as hot chocolate, cider, coffee and tea can leave teeth looking more yellow than usual because they pass directly over teeth and deposit stains more quickly with their warmth.
So why is that yellow tinge so loathed? Experts say that brightened teeth not only take years off your age, but can actually be a mood elevator too.
"Your confidence is boosted by the appearance of whiter, cleaner-looking teeth. Plus, pink and healthy gums are always more attractive than those that are red or puffy from gingivitis," dental hygienist Amy Hazlewood tells StyleList.
While we're accustomed to whitening treatments that typically taken several days to even weeks of diligent application, waiting and care, Luster and Crest have gone the instant gratification route with the launch of two new on-the-spot whitening products just in time for spring.
Packaged in three travel-ready 1.5-ounce tubes, Luster NOW Instant Whitening Toothpaste claims to use a thin film of reflective "Blueverite technology" to contrast yellow stains upon contact, almost like an illuminating makeup primer.
Upon brushing, you may find that as we did, your teeth and gums appear slightly blue, which disappears after a few minutes as the product mixes with your saliva. If you get overzealous in your application and fear blue Popsicle mouth, the good news is that a water rinse quickly dissipates the color.
And while the blue whiteners provide a blast of white that lasts several hours, Luster claims that stain-removal ingredients whiten the underlying surface of teeth for longer-lasting results that can be seen in two weeks. After those two weeks, you can safely choose to continue use of the toothpaste for your daily brushings.
On the Crest 3D White front, the brand has shortened what used to be a seven-to-14-day process into one two-hour strip application of peroxide gel that promises noticeable results that last three months. The strips work by targeting the buildup of stains that occur below the tooth's surface.
Actress Amanda Peet told us she swears by the strips before a red-carpet appearance or special date with her husband, which instantly compelled us to give the strip a try. We found that using the strip right after a dental cleaning maximized results to rival that of a professional tray whitening treatment.
As with any whitening products, tooth sensitivity is always a possible side effect. We experienced no sensitivity issues while using either product, which is likely credited to today's more sophisticated formulas, as the traditional Crest Whitestrips did used to leave our gums and teeth sore.
But no matter your chosen form of whitening or just overall dental-health habits, we've gathered some quick tips in the gallery above from experts on maximizing the brilliance of your smile.
And if you're on a mission to pearly whites, you'll want to check out our roundup of the best brighteners on the market.