Here's Everything You Need to Know About Whitening Your Teeth Before the Wedding

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You want to look your best at your wedding and that doesn't just stop at choosing the right dress, makeup, and hairstyle. You'll be doing a lot of smiling that day, both for the cameras and your guests, so having a set of perfect pearly whites is important.

We're not going to sugarcoat it for you. If you've been a fan of coffee and red wine for years, then you shouldn't expect to sleep with a whitening strip and wake up the next day with impeccably white teeth.

Courtney Lavigne, DMD, a cosmetic dentist in Wayland, MA, suggests you start the process 2-3 months prior to your big day.

VIDEO: 5 Affordable Ways to Whiten Your Teeth at Home

"This gives you enough time to evaluate the results and continue whitening if your teeth aren't the shade you want them to be," she says. "I would recommend discontinuing any whitening at least a week before the wedding to avoid post-op sensitivity."

In general, there are three options you can choose from: "professional whitening in a dental office, professionally made trays for your teeth for whitening at home, or over-the-counter whitening products."

"The whitening offered in a dental office is a higher concentration of bleach, meaning better results but at a high cost. Take-home trays made by a dentist to use at home are slightly less expensive and can work well. They are re-usable, meaning you only have to purchase tubes of whitening from your dentist when you want to brighten," Lavigne adds. "Over-the-counter whitening products are disposable and can improve your smile, but the low-level concentration means you'll have to whiten more often and for longer periods to achieve the same results."

If you decide to go with the over-the-counter option, do your homework before spending any money—some products work better than others and you don't want to end up disappointed right before your wedding if the results are not satisfying.

Once you have achieved the perfect shade of white, you need to make sure it stays that way until the big day.

"The best way to maintain the shade of your teeth," says Lavigne, "is to avoid contact with foods and drinks that have the highest tendency to re-stain them. The foods that will have the greatest effect on your teeth are the ones that are both heavily pigmented and acidic. The acidity etches the surface of your teeth to open up the 'pores' and make them more susceptible to stain. Dark wines, marinara sauce, coffee, and tea are kryptonite for your teeth."

Beauty requires some sacrifices, right?!

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