Arise and shine
I could write a mini-essay about the time my dental hygienist was away and I went to see someone else instead. This someone else worked for a cosmetic practice, something I’d failed to note when I made the booking. While cleaning my perfectly healthy teeth, she banged on about cosmetic procedures, and introduced me to the man whose practice it was. He whisked me off to his room, where he was spectacularly indiscreet about his celebrity clientele — “Oh my God! You should have seen her teeth before! Like an animal!” Then he basically Photoshopped some giant white gnashers onto my face and said: “Behold! The future.”
Incredibly, I went quite far with the veneers idea. Like bad cosmetic doctors, bad cosmetic dentists are good at insinuating that your face/teeth are basically deformed, even though this is demonstrably untrue. Then I came to my senses and cancelled everything. One man said, “For God’s sake, don’t do it”, then told me horrible stories about veneers falling off in restaurants and them having to sit there with a roughed-up stump where the Dazzling Gnasher used to be. We’re carnivores. We need teeth that can tear things, not facades that cope best with pottage.
And anyway, I much prefer slightly wonky British teeth to slablike, fluorescent American ones. What I don’t love is yellowness or staining. Sometimes you meet people whose teeth are sort of mossy, then you have to look at pictures of kittens to push the horror out of your head.
So: whitening. It doesn’t matter if your teeth are wonky, as long as they’re white. Not too white, but whiter than they would be without any help. I know whereof I speak here: I smoke, drink industrial quantities of tea and am partial to malbec. My teeth should be monstrous. But they aren’t. And this is just as well, because manky teeth are about the most ageing thing you can do to your face — stupidly, pointlessly ageing, because there’s no need for it. It follows, therefore, that having whiter teeth is almost instantly youthifying. It’s one of those things people can’t quite pinpoint — “You look well,” they say, with a suspicious expression.
No 1 — briefly, because I’ve written about it before: the Philips Sonicare. Dramatically superior to any other electric toothbrush, it will make your teeth pristine and whiter by a couple of shades. Really worth the money; properly does the job; makes your mouth feel fantastic.
No 2: if you want to go a lot lighter, there is nothing to beat made-to-measure moulds and peroxide gel from a dentist. You used to have to sleep in these, which wasn’t sexy, but now you can just wear them for a couple of hours while pottering about. Used over time, these have the kind of results that make you want to smile fixedly at everybody. They’re brilliant. They cost a few hundred pounds, but last for ever. Don’t buy cheap, one-size-fits-all moulds: they’re loose and badly made. The stuff drips out. You don’t want to be ingesting peroxide.
No 3: Janina toothpaste. I don’t know why this works so much better than any other whitening toothpaste, but it does. If I stop using this, my teeth literally change colour, and not in a good way. It’s gentle and non-abrasive, and you only need a pea-sized amount (just as well: it’s not cheap). I recently bought a whole load of whitening toothpastes, both here and on a trip to America, where they’re laxer about ingredients. I thought I’d find something turbocharged to challenge the supremacy of Janina, but no. Janina reigns. It’s a fantastic toothpaste.
No 4: if you really want to gild the lily: reformulated Pearl Drops. Remember Pearl Drops? I have them in the category that includes Lipcote and bright-green “wet look” hair gel, which is to say, firmly in the 1980s relics category. However: new, rebooted Pearl Drops is great, affordable and makes teeth whiter.
No 5: the best thing you can do for your teeth is to have regular appointments with a hygienist. There isn’t a non-professional product in the world that will get your teeth as clean and white as someone giving them a regular MOT.
Say no to veneers. India Knight has better ways to whiten your teeth
India Knight Published: 21 July 2013