The Best Way to Brighten Your Smile (No Matter How Much Time You Have)

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Whether you've got two minutes or two weeks before you want to flash your pearly whites, there's a product that can do the job, says N.Y.C.-based cosmetic dentist Dr. Marc Lowenberg. His favorites? Read on…

If you've got two minutes:

Brush your teeth with Luster Now! Instant Whitening Toothpaste ($6;, says Dr. Lowenberg. The formula imparts the slightest (basically imperceptible) blue hue, which creates the illusion of whiter teeth. The effect should last a few hours, barring eating or drinking.

If you've got two weeks:

Turn to good ‘ol whitestrips, says Dr. Lowenberg, who favors Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrips ($39;"The bleach within the strips remains in contact with the tooth enamel long enough to deliver noticeable results with a couple of days of use," he says. "But these strips work to their maxiumum in two weeks." Results can last up to a year, but those who consume coffee, tea, dark colas, or red wine may need a more regular refresher.

If you're in it for the long-haul:

"The best whitening strategy is to use an in-office whitening procedure such as the Philips Zoom QuickPro, which provides incredible results instantly," says Dr. Lowenberg. Following the in-office treatment, you can use a take-home tray lined with bleaching gel daily for thirty minutes. "Though it's optional, I recommend patients do so to maintain the degree of brightness achieved in the office,” he adds.

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