My whole life, one of the few physical traits I could always count on for compliments was my smile. In fifth grade, when I was as large as, well, two fifth-graders, we were assigned to write something positive about another person's appearance. Worried I was too ugly for words, I waited impatiently for my best friend Dan to show me what he'd written about me:
"Matthew has a great smile."
To this day, my teeth are suspiciously white, even though my dentist would probably give me an "eh" on my dental maintenance. Perhaps all that soda had burned away any film that would otherwise over my chompers, or I'm just genetically gifted in that regard.
But I've noticed that I no longer hear compliments about my very white teeth, because nowadays, there are so many options for whitening one's smile.
But which works the best? I think I have an answer.
Several months ago, I received a free kit from Smile Brilliant, which offers an elaborate tooth-whitening system you can take advantage of from your own home. The gist is, you use their kit to make impressions of your teeth, then they mail you back teeth-whitening trays custom-fitted to your mouth. (Pictured at left.) This way, their tooth-whitening product can work on your teeth in the most effective manner possible, so much so that they offer guaranteed results with a "no questions asked, money-back guarantee."
But who would be my guinea pig?
I recruited a good friend of mine with a charming smile who nonetheless had noticed some yellowing over the years. Look, even if you make it into your forties, the whiteness of your teeth probably won't—there's no shame in doing something proactive about brightening up that grin.
So my friend accepted my offer of a Smile Brilliant kit and began the long journey of whitening his teeth. (It's actually a short process, but he became busy and so used the kit over a period of weeks.)
I prodded him in the same way your tongue works over your teeth to get that stray piece of popcorn out of the way. He replied:
"I did a two-hour session this weekend, and a two-hour session the weekend before that, and two 45-minute sessions previously, for a total of five and a half hours."
The results were undeniable—what started out as somewhat dingy teeth have ended up sparkling white. He wasn't sure the difference was that dramatic until seeing his dental selfies side-by-side, which made him text me:
"I can definitely see the difference! My teeth are as white as they are going to get!"
My research suggests that in order to get the same level of whitening (we're not talking about whitening strips and other garbage treatments) from your dentist, you'd have to spend about $500, probably more here in NYC. Smile Brilliant wants just $89.95.
This is a big week for self-improvement posts. I've written about my experience getting Snatched and will soon publish a lengthy journal of what happened when I visited one of Manhattan's top plastic surgeons. Please let me know of any other similar topics you'd like to see me tackle.