Remember when your teeth were white? Al Bundy was on TV sticking his hand down his pants, a high-tech video game consisted of 8-bit graphics, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was an action hero instead of starring in garbage like Maggie.
Ah, those were the days.
But you can reclaim your past glory of having white teeth. Many things that strip the white from your chompers — drinking coffee, tea, colas, wines, and smoking or chewing tobacco — can be combatted with the right whitening toothpaste. Before emptying your wallet on an expensive whitening procedure, give the cheaper alternative a shot first. And if your teeth still suffer from jaundice when the tube is empty, so what. You still would have brushed your teeth anyway … we hope.
Colgate Total Whitening ($5 @ Amazon.com)
If your bad breath bothers others as much as the color of your teeth bothers you, Colgate’s Total Whitening may be a good pickup. It’s the only FDA approved toothpaste to help prevent gum disease, and its whitening formula uses a dual silica technology designed to eliminate stains and prevent against the formation of new ones. The 12-hour germ-fighting formula reduces up to 90 percent of bacteria that causes gingivitis, bleeding gums, and dragon breath. But be warned: silica-based toothpastes like Total Whitening can cause more add sensitivity to your teeth, so be weary if you’re prone to screaming bloody murder every time you sip ice water.
Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste ($6 @ Amazon.com)
Are you the sensitive type? Not the pump Kenny G. through your iPod while pondering life’s meaning as your read Wallace Stevens poems kind of sensitive, but the type of guy who has teeth so sensitive that to breathe is to suffer tooth pain? Not only is Sensodyne toothpaste the best, most-highly doctor recommended toothpaste for sensitive teeth, it also helps build a fortress against the effects of acidic erosion from drinking wine, soda, and coffee. The acid wears down enamel, which weakens the tooth and strips it of its natural white color. Even for dudes who hate math, this equation is simple to follow: stronger enamel + less erosion = whiter, healthier teeth.
Tom’s of Maine Natural Antiplaque Tarter Control Plus Whitening Toothpaste ($6 @ Amazon.com)
Tom’s prides itself on using all-natural ingredients, like zinc citrate, a naturally occurring mineral, to control tarter, and xylitol, a natural ingredient derived from birch trees or corn, to reduce plaque. There’s no artificial colors, sweeteners, colors, flavors, and it’s not tested on animals. So how the hell is it one of the best toothpastes for whitening teeth? Scilia! Silica is found in sand and polishes away tooth stains. Seriously.
Crest 3D White Advanced Vivid Flouride Toothpaste ($3 @ Amazon.com)
Sodium hexametaphosphate might sounds like an ingredient in roofies, but it’s actually a major part of what makes Crest’s enamel-safe whitening paste work to eliminate tartar, plaque, fight cavities, and remove stains from your mustard-colored teeth. Its patented micro-cleansing whitening and WhiteBond protection has been shown to remove up to 90 percent of surface stains in two weeks — if you brush regularly, of course. No more of that using your finger as a toothbrush stuff.
Arm & Hammer Advanced White Brilliant Sparkle Toothpaste ($4 @ Amazon.com)
Trying to sell you on something with the words “brilliant sparkle” on the box is an uphill battle, but since Arm & Hammer brought the same type of muscle they use when removing tomato sauce from our T-shirts to their toothpaste, we figured we’d give it a shot. While the trio of baking soda, peroxide, and fluoride are great for triple-teaming plaque, tarter, and cavities, as well as making teeth look whiter, it can taste bland compared to other brands. But while the taste may leave something to be desired, its performance still ranked high when it came to freshening breath and whitening teeth.