I wore braces for what was supposed to be 13 months and turned into almost 3 years. This was also my junior and senior years of high school. You can imagine what this did to my attitude. I eventually got over it and embraced the fact that one day I would have the straight teeth to show for it, but at the time, I vowed to take insanely good care of my teeth when I got the bastards taken off.
Not only do I make sure to visit my dentist every 6 months like clockwork for my regular cleanings and checkups (I'm one of those freaks who actually likes going to the dentist) I also make sure to routinely whiten my chompers whenever they're feeling less than pearl-like. Back in the day, I used to use the at-home whitening kits like this one, and even though I have pretty strong teeth, I would still experience the dreaded tooth sensitivity that comes along with bleaching the ever living shit out of your teeth. No fun. That's the downside to those strips....the upside? They totally work. But you have to decide if it's worth the few days of pain and misery.
Luckily, you can get pretty impressive results using more natural products you probably already have in your kitchens and bathrooms. The process will take a bit longer in terms of seeing results, however, you will get them (results, that is). Here is what I use to keep my pearly whites as white as can be!
Step 1 | In a small bowl, combine about 3 teaspoons of baking soda and about 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide (3% for oral use) to make a paste similar in consistency to toothpaste.
Step 2 | This step is optional, but it makes the paste taste much better. If you have some peppermint essential oil, add 1 drop to the paste. Again, this is not necessary, but it will make the paste more palatable.
Step 3 | Use your toothbrush to dip into the paste and start gently brushing your teeth in small circles trying to avoid your gum line as best as you can.
Step 4 | Let the mixture sit on your teeth for about 2 minutes (any longer than that and your mouth will start to cramp, but if you can hang longer than 2 minutes, hell, GO FOR GOLD). I shouldn't have to tell you this, but do not swallow the mixture.
Step 5 | Rinse with water and then brush your teeth to remove any leftover mixture from teeth and mouth. I included a picture of my fave dental floss in the photo above as well, but you can use any dental floss JUST USE IT. Not only is is vital for your gums, but it really makes a difference in how white your teeth look. You need to get all that gunk and tartar out from in between your teeth as well. Don't neglect this step.
I LOVE Colgate's Optic White toothpaste and have started buying it in bulk, but it can be a bit strong for people with sensitive teeth. My husband has extremely sensitive teeth and he swears by Sensodyne's Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste (which we also buy in bulk). Check your Sunday paper for coupons as well as Target coupons and Cartwheel. I can usually always find pretty good manufacturer coupons for the Optic White online and in Target's coupons (the other day I got a 2-pack for under $2 through couponing!)
Aaaanyhoo, that's how I keep my teeth looking like THIS and THIS! (The red lipstick helps as well...that is a fun little factoid).