Can toothpaste be anything other than utilitarian? Is it possible for toothpaste to be, well, sexy? As a longtime user of Sensodyne, I’d have said no: Toothpaste is good and can even have mild whitening properties, but there’s no Raquel Welch of toothpaste. The best toothpaste can be is not too expensive and not too cloying and not too hard on my sensitive teeth, but also minty enough to make a person fresh-breath confident. Oh, and ideally it keeps the chompers enviably sparkly.
Turns out, I knew nothing. Until my dentist, who is the sort of dentist who doesn’t let you leave without a bag of toothbrushes, toothpastes, flosses, and tiny Chap Sticks (she’s amazing), asked if I wanted to try Opalescence.
Shiny and silver, it’s the blingiest tube I’ve ever seen — your snooping guests will be impressed — and simply using the toothpaste keeps my teeth white enough that the hygienist comments on them at each visit. Unlike traditional whitening toothpastes that use peroxide, Opalescence removes surface stains (up to two shades in a month) by scrubbing them away with silica. But — and this is key — it’s not so abrasive that you can’t use it every day. Not to get too wonky, but the toothpaste has a relative dentin abrasion of 90, which is lower (meaning less abrasive and better on tooth enamel) than both Colgate and Crest Whitening — and just a hair lower than Aquafresh Sensitive.
Beyond its whitening properties, though, is the toothpaste’s taste. You know how drugstore toothpastes can be a little too sweet, or not leave your mouth feeling fresh enough (which causes me to brush and then rebrush for the desired effect)? Opalescence lends a tingly, clean mouthfeel — you can almost feel it killing germs — with just one application; it’s just a step away from feeling like you’ve had a professional cleaning.
If you want to minimize abrasion or keep the tube going longer, you can alternate with your favorite toothpaste (my dentist recommends Sensodyne Repair and Protect) and still experience fantastic tooth-whitening effects, no matter how many coffees you chug each day (a lot, if you’re me). I’ve used it for several years now, and people are always complimenting my teeth. And I didn’t even have to strip my enamel. — Jen Doll
A whitening trick for non-sensitive mouths
A while back, after years of who-knows-how-many iced red-eyes and mugs of green tea, my smile was in need of a tune-up. After browsing Amazon for Whitestrips (at $30, slightly spendy), I was recommended Plus White, a five-minute speed-whitening system that’s since become my go-to pre-party ritual. You simply apply the clear, slightly saccharine gel (its viscous quality reminded me of those ICEE squeeze candies from childhood) using a Q-tip or toothbrush onto the front and back of each tooth; if you have a retainer, as I do, you can squeeze it into that and pop it in, too.
The box tells you to keep the gel on for five minutes, but I’ve pushed it to fifteen without the achy tooth sensitivity I get from Whitestrips. Like the revolutionary Crest product, Plus White whitens using hydrogen peroxide, which removes both surface and intrinsic stains with a bleach-like effect that shouldn’t be overdone (I’ve used it once every few weeks without issues). It’s slightly annoying not to be able to swallow (even saliva) for a bit, but the results are immediate and noticeable. I’ve used it before weddings and events where I smiled more and felt tanner — an optical illusion, I realize, but a convincing one. — Jason Chen
The Strategist is a new site designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best notebook, black T-shirts, fashion-editor-approved jeans, toothbrush, and apartment décor. Note that all prices are subject to change.
If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.