Plan on whitening your smile within a day or two of having your teeth professionally cleaned. Once your dental hygienist removes the surface stains and plaque from your teeth, the bleaching agents are allowed to penetrate better, yielding the best results. Some people experience mild irritation or sensitivity, especially at the gumline, if they whiten on the same day as having a cleaning, so plan for a day or two later to be on the safe side. If your teeth tend to be sensitive to cold or heat, you may also be sensitive to bleach. If you’re concerned, try ibuprofen or Tylenol before you whiten to curb sensitivity. Another helpful step is to switch to a desensitizing toothpaste, such as Sensodyne. You’ll not only reduce your sensitivity to hot and cold, but used for a month before whitening, you’ll drastically reduce sensitivity to bleach. And with several varieties of Sensodyne available, it can be your new toothpaste of choice. To get your whitest white, avoid dark colored foods and drinks while you are bleaching. This means, if you opt for an at-home treatment that requires daily use for one to two weeks, you’ll get your brightest if you avoid coffee, tea, sodas and red wine every day that you are using the bleaching product. This goes for dark foods too – opt for chicken fettucini with alfredo sauce instead of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara. Try a Ceasar dressing instead of Thousand Island. Mayo instead of mustard. You get the idea. And to chose the whitening product that is best for you, consider these tips. Whitening strips work well for many people, you just have to be sure you use as directed, and if the strips are too large for your teeth, use scissors to cut them down to size. Be sure not to get the strip on your gums or you may become irritated and even ulcerated at the gumline. If you have crooked or crowded teeth, whitening strips won’t fit well and stay in place. Try using the end of a toothpick to mold the strips to your teeth – this will give you better results along the edges of your teeth. Consider custom-made bleaching trays from your dentist. It will cost more than an over-the-counter option, but will yield vastly better results for those with a crooked smile. Another option is whitening gel applied directly to the teeth. This system works really well, just apply carefully to avoid bleach on the gums. No matter which at-home treatment you try, be sure to brush lightly with a wet toothbrush to remove any traces of bleach when you’ve finished your treatment. This will reduce sensitivity after the treatment. Ladies can give their smile an easy boost by wearing a glossy, blue-based lip color, such as cheer red, wine or berrry shades. These colors make yellowish teeth appear whiter. Try Clinique For a Brighter Smile which are designed to give the appearance of whiter teeth. If your smile has a grayish appearance, try a coral color lip color. Always avoid pearly lipsticks, matte finishes and beige, brown or yellow undertones. Remember that products purchased from your dentist are stronger than those bought from the pharmacy or grocery store. Many people find that while these cost more, the stronger concentration means less frequent use to get the same or better results than the store bought products. When in doubt, consult your dentist.