Life 101: White Teeth

When people meet you, what do you think they notice first?

  • Your hair?
  • Your body?
  • Your clothes?
  • Your handbag?

None of the above, actually.

They notice your smile.

Flashing a smile makes a powerful first impression. You don’t need Chiclet-white perfect teeth, just a genuine, warm smile.  It sets off a cascade of positive outcomes: your smile causes others to smile, which makes you–and them–look good, appear smart and competent; and everyone feels better just for grinning. (See an interesting and amusing Forbes article, The Untapped Power of Smiling for more on the miracle of a smile.)

The teeth are the hardest substances in the human body. An adult has 32 teeth which are essential for eating and have an important role in speech. Healthy teeth and gums are important for our health as well as our looks. In her beauty book, Timeless, 62-year-old former supermodel Christie Brinkley says smiling is her top beauty tip:

It instantly lifts the face and it just lights up the room.

~ Christie Brinkley

Image via Elle

Now how simple is that? Laugh lines are ever so much better than frown lines.

It is far more difficult to change our pearly whites than our clothes, hair, or makeup. In the course of a busy life, dental care may not be a top priority, however if you wait until you have a toothache to take notice, the damage may already be done. When the teeth are not given proper attention or are brushed incorrectly, plaque builds up which causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. And gum disease (Gingivitis) has been linked to heart problems, kidney disease, diabetes and even certain types of cancer. When it comes to your dental health, prevention is much easier than cure. Seeing a dentist once a year and a hygienist three or four times a year is an investment that has long term benefits–looking beautiful, being healthy, and keeping your teeth for life.

There are many variations on the colour scheme of white that we find pleasing in our wardrobes and our decor–from snowflake to stone–but when it comes to our teeth, bright white is what we want. Whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can significantly improve how your teeth look. As we age, the enamel becomes thinner and the dentin becomes darker and thus the teeth are less luminous. Teeth can also become discoloured and stained over time. The main culprits are coffee, tea, colas, marinara sauce, soy sauce, red wine, and smoking. There are a number of options such as lasers, bleaching, whitening strips and portable brushes and whitening pens. Some methods can be done at home, others in the dental office.

The first step to getting your teeth gleaming, is choosing a good daily toothpaste. A gentle, enamel-safe product without harsh abrasives is a must. Here are two that I have tried and liked because they make my teeth noticeably whiter, and without increased sensitivity: Colgate Optic White promises three shades whiter in just 7 days. Luster Power White Deep Stain Eraser is the first toothpaste with 2% stabilized hydrogen peroxide to remove 95% of stains in 5 days. Developed by dentists, it removes and whitens stains on and below the surface, kills bacteria that cause bad breath, strengthens enamel, and fights cavities. Real Simple magazine rated it Best Whitening Toothpaste.

COLGATE Optic White. Amazon | LUSTER PREMIUM WHITE Power White. Amazon, Walmart | TRI-O-DENT toothbrush

There is also a formulation called Luster Now! which whitens immediately and “contains Bluverite® technology which deposits blue micro-particles on to teeth, creating the optical effect of whiter teeth.” An optical illusion for teeth? It’s no wonder it was an Allure Beauty Breakthrough Award winner! I’m trying this one next.

Luster Now Instant Whitening Toothpaste | Amazon, Walmart, Shopper Drug Mart
Luster Now! Instant Whitening Toothpaste | Amazon, Walmart, Shopper Drug Mart | Image via Luster Premium White


  • BRUSH your teeth twice a day (always before bed). Use a soft bristle brush with gentle circular motions, and brush for two minutes. Be gentle: brushing too hard can erode protective enamel (triggering tooth sensitivity and cavities) and cause receding gums. Electric toothbrushes mimic the correct brushing technique–circular strokes–removes more plaque than a manual brush and improves oral hygiene. And these ones are just so high-fashion with their sleek design, elegant colours, and glass cup charger.
Philips | Sonicare Diamond Clean | Amethyst, White, Pink, Black
Philips | Sonicare Diamond Clean | Amethyst, White, Pink, Black | Image via Philips
  • FLOSS once a day to remove plaque. It takes 24 hours for bacteria on your teeth to develop into plaque.
  • Visit your DENTIST regularly for a checkup and cleaning.
  • Eat a well-balanced DIET low in sugary foods and drinks. Eating raw, firm fruits and vegetables (like apples and carrots) with and after meals is beneficial. These foods are considered to be nature’s toothbrushes because of their effectiveness on plaque.


A beauty trick for an A-list-worthy smile is choosing the right shade of lipstick.

  • REDS

Pick blue-based formulas over orange-y reds. Shades like MAC’s iconic Ruby Woo

MAC | Ruby Woo | Image via Vogue
MAC | Ruby Woo | Image via Vogue Beauty

or Red Carpet Red and Love Liberty by Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury | Matte Revolution Lipstick | TopRed Carpet Red; LeftLove Liberty

Makeup fiends and celebrity makeup artists know that the right red makes the teeth look instantly whiter. Why? On the color wheel, blue and orange/yellow sit opposite each other, so blue tones tend to cancel out orange or yellow tones when juxtaposed together, and vice versa. Therefore, lipsticks with a blue base will counteract any orange or yellow tones on your teeth.

The Colour Wheel | Image via Deviant Art
The Colour Wheel | Image via Deviant Art

Again, steer clear of orange-y, yellow, or brown tones for a megawatt smile and pick your pinks from the berry-hued, purple-y reds instead. The darker shades of the pink spectrum provide a high contrast which really amps up the brilliance of the teeth.


Despite the Kylie ’90s lip colour trend, brown tones make the teeth look dull and drab. Lipstick Queen has come up with a solution: a sheer blue iridescent shimmer in their Butterfly Ball lipstick range designed to make the teeth look whiter. Genius!

And in terms of texture for any colour, a wee bit of shimmer and shine can work wonders to make your smile sparkle.

Maybelline Matts | Divine Wine, Craving Coral, Siren In Scarlet, Daringly Nude, Lust For Blush
Maybelline Mattes | Divine Wine, Craving Coral, Siren In Scarlet, Daringly Nude, Lust For Blush




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Susan Written by: