Health & Fitness

By Kim Taylor

Americans are among those with the best teeth in the world, and we consider a smile to be a social asset. Brush up below on how to brighten your grin, from most to least expensive.

* Brite Smile Spas
These brightening salons can whiten an average of nine shades or more in one hour, which is turbo-charged brilliance. The whitening procedure entails sitting in a comfortable dental-style chair for an hour in front of a television, remote in hand, an experience more akin to a spa visit than an appointment with a dentist. Brite Smile’s new Madison Avenue location features ultra-modern pod rooms with white Italian leather chaise chairs. Brite Smile’s proprietary blue light procedure kills bacteria that contributes to gum disease, so the procedure delivers health as well as cosmetic benefit.

The procedure won’t soften enamel or existing fillings, and the primary ingredient in the gel is hydrogen peroxide (15%), which has been safely used in teeth whitening for more than a century, and is recognized as effective by the dental community; other whitening gels often contain as much as 50% hydrogen peroxide. This whitening process is similar to those offered by dentists, yet it isn’t as expensive (most dentists charge $800 for the procedure). You can only eat white foods, such as chicken and white pasta, for 24 hours after the procedure due to the removal of the outer protein pellicle layer, which rebuilds within 24 hours. Only eating white foods and drinking white liquids for 24 hours is more difficult than you would think. If a particular food would stain a white T-shirt, you can’t eat it, and going without morning coffee can feel like torture, but it’s worth it. The procedure is $600, and Brite Smile sells maintenance products that range in price from $5 to $150. A similar procedure at a dental office runs around $800. Call 1-800-BriteSmile for information and appointments. Manhattan locations are 133 Prince Street, and Madison Avenue between 72nd and 73rd Streets.

* Ultradent’s Opalescence line introduces the Treswhite kit
Available through dentists worldwide, this new technology simplifies the tooth-whitening process by offering pre-filled, disposable “teeth trays” that are worn for an hour a day. There is no need for impressions, molding or lab time because the trays are easily adaptable to each mouth shape; It also tastes pleasant (mint or melon flavors), and whitens both side of teeth, front and back. The price is $75 to $100. To locate a dentist that carries Treswhite, call 1-866-672-5764 or visit When visiting the web site, consider that Opalescence’s whitening toothpaste is a great (and inexpensive) way to keep your teeth looking white and fresh.

Smile and say “cheese” — you’re American.

Originally published June 2005
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