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Keeping your teeth white at home

Affordable tricks for a pearly white smile

Anyone who has ever had their teeth professionally whitened knows that it costs a pretty penny. Since it is a cosmetic procedure, your insurance probably won't cover it. (If your insurance does cover it, please tell me who you are with!) White teeth are a symbol of health and youth in our society. Your smile is often the first impression you give others, so keeping it looking clean and healthy is important.

Thankfully, you don't necessarily need to go to the dentist to get a bright, white smile.There are many over-the-counter whitening products that aren't too hard on the budget. Crest makes a line of whitening strips that can be found at most drugstores. Most of these products promise a brighter smile in as little as one week. Of course, you have to make sure to use them every day to see results.

If you don't want to shell out any money for whitening strips, you can always try to make a whitening paste at home. Baking soda has been used for years in dental care. It gently scrubs away surface stains, leaving a whiter smile behind. You simply sprinkle a little bit on your toothbrush and wet with water. Brush with this paste like you would with a regular toothpaste. Use it for a few days at a time.

Hydrogen peroxide is also very good at whitening teeth. Since it is dangerous to ingest large quantities of hydrogen peroxide, dilute it with water. Gargle with the diluted mixture for one minute and spit out. Be careful not to swallow any of the hydrogen peroxide. After spitting, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. Only do this once a week, as the peroxide can damage tooth enamel with excessive use.

Sure, these tricks won't get you the same results as a professional whitening, but they do a pretty good job of removing stains. Once you finish the whitening process, keep your teeth bright by avoiding foods and drinks that may stain them, such as wine, coffee and tea. There is no reason why you can't have a movie star smile without having a Hollywood budget.