How to get a sparkling smile—fast

A pearly white smile can add instant oomph to your look. If your teeth are less than flawless and you’re short on time, we’ll help you get party-ready with these expert-approved fixes to transform your mouth in minutes.

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It takes two

Proper oral hygiene is the most effective and efficient way to reduce surface plaque from accumulating, which can lead to stains, tooth decay and gum disease.

If you’re still using an old-fashioned soft-bristled toothbrush and not getting the results you want, consider switching to an electric brush. Many new high-speed electric or sonic (vibrating head) toothbrushes let you know when you need to switch areas and keep track of how long you’re scrubbing.

“Brushing at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes will help maintain a bright, white smile,” says Robert Lee, North America Professional and Scientific Relations for Procter & Gamble.

Tear a strip off

Get those ivories in shape­ while you get ready! Whether you have an hour or a week, forgo at-home trays and gadgets for convenient stain-whitening strips.

The latest crop of whitening strips use the same enamel-safe ingredients found at your dentist’s office (to better protect those pearly whites), they are larger (for better coverage) and use non-slip technology (so they stay put), says Lee. Plus, these single-use strips are easy to use at any time.

Drink to that

Sip on this, wine, coffee and tea lovers: Discoloration from consuming these beverages isn’t just a myth. “You can enjoy all that goodness so long as you brush and floss regularly,” says Lee.

“For stubborn marks, use at-home whitening agents that can lighten teeth by one or two shades.” But don’t wait until you’re six shades deep, as it’s easier to lighten teeth by one or two shades.

And, it may look funny, but consider sipping wine through a straw to reduce acid contact on enamel. If you’re a coffee or soda lover, rinse your mouth out with water after you indulge.

Blue in the face

Don’t stop at the lips—scale back on yellow and orange undertones when choosing face and eye makeup, too. “Use makeup with a blue-based tone to draw attention to the eyes instead of the yellow in the teeth,” says Chu. And avoid heavy use of bronzer: “It will bring out the yellow in your face and, as a result, in your teeth.” If you must use some, keep it to a minimum on your cheeks and avoid the area around your mouth.

Cool off

Five-second fix: Swipe on a lip colour with cool tones instead of warmer shades. “Lipstick with blue-based undertones will eliminate any signs of orange or yellow in your teeth and make them appear whiter,” says Veronica Chu, CoverGirl makeup pro.

Stash away shades that fall on the opposite end of the colour wheel, such as those with orange and yellow undertones that can highlight the yellow in your teeth. “Apply a shade of concealer that’s lighter than the rest of your face to the cupid’s bow to accentuate the full lip line and draw more attention to your lips (instead of your teeth),” says Chu.


Photo: Erik Putz

The tool kit

Use these expert-recommended products to get a whiter smile fast.

Clockwise from top left:

Forgo a pricey in-office treatment ($500+ per session) for a convenient apply-anywhere whitening strip. Then, go ahead and use that extra hour for party prepping.
Crest 3D White Whitestrips Supreme Flexfit Dental Whitening Kit, $69.96.

This baked formula blends easily to deliver a natural glow so the focus stays on your smile.
CoverGirl truBlend Blush in Medium Rose, $11.94.

Get your gleam back with this on-the-go pen. No rinsing or downtime required. Sign us up!
Colgate Optic White Toothbrush + Built-In Whitening Pen, $14.97.

Show off that megawatt smile with a bold, blue-based lip colour. Perfect for under the mistletoe.
CoverGirl Outlast All-Day Custom Reds lip colour in Your Classic Red, $9.97.

This power washer for your mouth comes with seven cool features and removes up to 100 percent more plaque than a manual brush.
Oral-B Smart Series Black 7000 Rechargeable Electric toothbrush, $239.96.

Leave the dirty work to this paste. In just five days, it eliminates stains and prevents new ones from settling in.
Arm & Hammer Extra Whitening Advance White Stain Protection toothpaste, $2.27.

Similar to bleaching agents in your hair dye, the hydrogen peroxide in this formula helps you get your sparkle back—one swish at a time.
Colgate Optic White High Impact White Mouthwash, $8.77.

Get into tight quarters with ease and prevent surface stains from forming between teeth.
Oral-B Glide 3D White Pro-Health Whitening + Scope Dental Floss, $3.98 (available only in select Supercentres).

This two-step professional polish is like an exfoliator and mask for your teeth—it removes surface stains as it protects teeth enamel.
Crest 3D White Brilliance 2 Step toothpaste, $13.96.

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