Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
Yep, Mad Men Season 6 premieres this week, and for those of us trying to quit bad habits, it also means that an army of sharply-dressed gentlemen will be chain-smoking and binge-drinking in closed spaces, in front of you, every week.
Despite the endless puffs that his character Don Draper takes in each episode, the handsome Jon Hamm keeps flashing a big white smile. We know: the smokes are fake on the set (and Hamm quit smoking when he was 24; well done, Jon), but the point is that white teeth is a concern for many a man in a society adamant on oral hygiene.
From inexpensive at-home bleaching remedies to professional cosmetic dentistry procedures, today there are more ways to brighten up your smile than ever before. Before trying out any of these procedures, make sure to schedule a cleaning with your dentist to achieve maximum results, and be on the look out for products that include peroxide, an agent that works wonders when it comes to whitening. Below, a quick primer on tooth bleaching to help you find the option best-suited to your taste:
Teeth Whitening Strips
Sold over the counter, this comparatively inexpensive method is easy to use and really does work (although it may take a little longer to see results depending on how much peroxide your product contains). Some white spots may appear on your teeth and gums after the treatment, but they disappear after a few hours. Take caution, though, in not brushing these areas with a toothbrush, as they could ultimately irritate your already sensitive gum tissue.
Teeth Whitening Toothpastes
While these products don't exactly "bleach" your teeth, they do contain mild abrasives that succeed in removing surface stains (and products like Rembrandt's Deeply White + Peroxide Toothpaste, the only tooth paste available with peroxide, actually work on and below the enamel surface).
Easily the most expensive procedure but also the one that consistently shows the best results, in-office bleaching is the most time efficient: You and your new smile will be in and out of the dentist's office in a little over an hour.
Teeth Whitening Trays
Less expensive than in-office bleaching but more time-consuming, these trays are worn a couple of hours a day or overnight, and take several weeks to show results. You can get these trays from your dentist or over the counter, but product quality varies wildly.
These rinses, which contain hydrogen peroxide, are one of the newest products on the market. While these products have all the benefits of regular mouthwashes, it may take up to 12 weeks to see results.
There are many of these lurking around the internet, but one tip that is truly effective (and inexpensive) is brushing your teeth with baking soda, which can help reduce surface stains. However, to reach stains found in the dentin (the live bone beneath the enamel), you'll need a paste or kit more specifically designed for whitening. Use this method sparingly so the acid doesn't cause damage to your mouth.