Remember when the best smile fixes were strictly the preserve of A-listers while the rest of us had a clean and polish and hoped for the best. Not anymore. ‘Everyone that has a smile can improve it today,’ says Dr Uchenna Okoye, cosmetic dentist for Channel 4’s Ten Years Younger who practices at London Smiling Clinics. ‘From new toothpastes that whiten teeth safely to high-tech gloss polishes that remove heavy stains better teeth are more affordable than ever.’ Here’s a round-up of the best whiteners, straighteners and brighteners for your smile.
Under a £1: tooth-cleaning gum It’s hard to imagine a more low-maintenance way of preventing stains. According to Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF), xylitol, a new generation sweetener found in many sugarfree gums is well proven for its anti-plaque properties. ‘Plaque build up turns into tartar and creates stains and yellowing,’ he says. ‘Sugar-free gum with xylitol chewed after eating can help reduce that, like toothbrushing on the go’. The BDHF recommends Wrigleys Orbit Complete .67p
Under £10 The 3-shades-lighter DIY stick Some tooth lightening pens available on-line can contain dangerous levels of peroxide and damage delicate tooth enamel. Boots Expert Teeth Whitening Stick £9.99 contains no peroxide yet trials have shown it can make your teeth three shades lighter after just a week’s use. You can apply it up to four times a day to tackle stains, but it’s best not to use it for longer than two weeks. It also comes with a snazzy shade guide to help you monitor your lightening progress.
Under £12 The whiter-than-white toothpaste Whitening toothpastes are not created equal, says Dr Okoye ‘Use one your dentist recommends as some are abrasive and remove stains by scrubbing the surface of the tooth like a Brillo pad,’ she says. ‘That affects tooth enamel and only attracts more stains.’ Dr Okoye recommends Janina Ultra White £10.95 from pharmacies. It’s clinically proven to remove stains and one study found it had the lowest abrasion levels of any other toothpaste tested.
Under £15 The Smile brightening lipstick Using a dental colour guide, the pundits at Clinique recently tested all their lipsticks and found some made teeth look at least one shade brighter. The 12 colours all come from Clinique’s extensive lipstick range, each £14.50. For nightime glam, we love Raspberry Glace and for stay-true sexy red we love Red-y to Wear.
From £50 New-gen clean and polish In the past, anyone seeing a hygienist would get a bit of a clean. Now many dentists use new cleaning techniques such as Sonic Stain Removal. ‘First a ‘Sonic Scaler’ uses ultrasonic waves which is far more effective at removing stains, says Dr Okoye. ‘Then, a solution is applied to the teeth containing silica which glides over them like a foundation primer, making teeth look glossier and protecting from further stains from red wine, coffee and cigarettes,’ says Dr Okoye. Prices start at £50, talk to your dentist.
From £250 At-home whitening kits When it comes to buying whitening kits on-line, Dr Kenneth Harris, cosmetic dentist at River Edge Dental Clinic, Newcastle has a word of warning: Don’t. They too can contain dangerous levels of hydrogen peroxide and cause a chemical burn. Furthermore, some people are not suitable for tooth whitening because they have decay, gum disease or receding gums, so your dentist needs to check your teeth first, he explains. For maximum value, Dr Harris recommends buying a home-whitening kit from your dentist. They start at around £250 and are used at home at night for between two weeks and one month to whiten teeth. ‘But the take-home bleaching trays in these kits last up to ten years,’ he says. ‘That means you can re-bleach your teeth every few months with a ‘top-up’ whitening solution from your dentist for as little as £50,’ says Dr Harris.
From £350 One-stop whitenining If you have sensitive teeth, whitening may have been off the menu because it can increase tooth sensitivity. Britesmile is an in-surgery whitening system that uses a whitening gel activated by a gentle blue-light applied in three 20-minute segments (Fearne Cotton is a fan). ‘Britesmile uses a lower frequency light on the teeth so it can be applied to people with sensitive teeth,’ says cosmetic dentist Dr Mani Bhardwaj, of the Smile Studio and Spa, Richmond.
From £800 The smile widener Think of Julia Roberts big, wide smile. Now, according to Dr Bhardvaj mortals can achieve this using strategically placed veneers. ‘For narrow smiles, we use ‘non-destructive’ veneers with no drilling, made to match the exact colour of the rest of the teeth and applied only to the narrower teeth on the edges of the top set,’ says Dr Bhardvaj. ‘The result is wider, more open smile.’ Depending on the type of ceramic used, veneers now cost between £400 and 1000 a tooth. ‘If that’s stretching your budget, your dentist can build up narrower teeth using the same tooth coloured substance that composite white fillings are made from so it’s less expensive than veneers.
From £800 Super-straight, super-fast For adults that missed the braces boat in their teens, the new ‘Six-Month Smile’ can straighten teeth in a fraction of the time regular braces take, says Dr Harris. ‘If your crowding isn’t severe, this corrects crooked teeth using new super-fine titanium wires which push and pull the teeth more quickly and effectively’. Six month smiles start from around £800. Other options include the Invisalign (pictured), a series of custom-fitted, removable clear braces which straighten the teeth over six to 11 months and prices start from £1500. Call 0845 644 5462 or log on to invisalign.co.uk
Find an experienced, accredited cosmetic dentist in your area through the British Association of Cosmetic Dentists at bacd.com