Teeth Whitening: A former beauty editor reveals the teeth whitening products that work.So today we're talking about teeth whitening -- and continuing the Lemondrop bad-teeth debate: If you ever want to feel really depressed, go visit a celebrity dentist! I found this out the hard way a couple years ago when, as a magazine editor, I visited the famous Dr. Fang, DDS, renowned for his glamorous celebrity clients, glossy veneers, and E!-network-worthy fake tan.

His tony uptown Manhattan office was extra-sexy, with sleek white leather furniture like a Palm Springs porno set and random Playboy magazines scattered amidst the Ws and Allures. The message? This was not a dentist's office for your dumb kids and their lame cavities, OK? Hygiene = out! Looking sexy = in, and if you forgot it, the weird framed photos of Karolina Kurkova looking gape-mouthed everywhere would certainly remind you.

I'd booked a cleaning and a whitening, but got neither! I only wound up sitting in a dental chair for five minutes tops before Dr. Fang led me into his vast office (more framed supermodel photos, natch), sat me down, and procured, from his deskside file cabinet ... an 8-by-10-inch glossy of Miley Cyrus. Um.

"Don't get me wrong -- you're lovely," Dr. Fang began, as my heart began a pretty little self-esteemy plunge of dread, "but you have what we like to call ... a gummy smile." A what?! "But hey, look! Stars like Miley here have it, too! Too little tooth, too much gum. And repairing it happens to be one of my specialties."

And then he offered to laser my gums the next week. For free. (Why so "nice"? He wanted a write-up in my magazine.)

Needless to say, I didn't exactly leave the appointment with a big ol' grin on my face. Just the opposite! In fact, I moped across the street to Barney's and bought a droopy gray Alexander Wang tank top to match my mood -- the sort of depressingly street urchin chic shirt I own forty-thousand of (and that always makes my grandmother shriek, "And when will we grow out of dressing like the cast of 'Les Miserables'?").

Gummy smile! Like I don't have enough dumb body-image issues as it is, you know?! And as I stood right there paying for the stupid thing I decided I would never go to the dentist again! At least for cosmetic purposes. Screw Dr. Fang and his tacky Van Cleef cuff links. (And I didn't ever go back and get the gum lasering. Whatever, dude.)

The fact is, I have really good teeth, bright white ones that people always think are fake, and I know how to keep them looking really excellent (i.e., white) on my own, without his help, or the help of any other celebrity dentist. In my years as a beauty editor I not only smoked loads of cigarettes (I've quit! I've quit!) and guzzled coffee, I also, more importantly, tried every whitening product ever.

You'll be relieved to know that I don't love any of the expensive ones.

And yes, I've had the $500-plus whitening treatments and they're good and fine, but I love the following products so much that I truly believe that consistently using them negates the need for blowing loads of money on pricey appointments. Read on.

Arm & Hammer Dental Care Whitening Plus Booster With Enamel Care
This stuff WORKS. Oh, how I love it. It's like a white strip in a gel that you use every day for daily maintenance. All it is is a clear, tasteless (it tells dirty jokes! No, I just tell stupid ones.) gel that you add on top of your toothpaste on your toothbrush when you brush your -- redundancy alert! -- teeth. You notice the difference right away -- seriously, after one use -- and then it keeps getting better and better. Someone who sees me every day noticed right off the bat and asked if I was using white strips -- more on those in a second -- but no, I'd just been using the booster gel for five days. Bonus: This is a great incentive to get you (fine, me) to brush your teeth at night, when many of us tend to laze out and skip the whole thing. And you'll want to smile more. Oh, and it's only $5! I got it at the supermarket, but you can order it at the link above if you can't find it. Drugstore.com: best website ever.


Crest 3D Vivid Whitestrips

OK, you're probably all "Duh, Cat, Crest White Strips. Tell me something I don't already know." But what you don't know is that I've tried everything. EVERYTHING! I've tried the strips from all of the other brands on the drugstore shelf. I've tried the weird ampules that cost a zillion dollars that come in the really glam packaging at Sephora. I've been fitted for the custom molds at the dentist and oozed them full of gross gel and gagged on them in my sleep at night. And you know what? I keep coming back to Crest. They're awesome. They're the original. The brand keeps honing the formula, and while there are a whole bunch of them to choose from -- at all different price points -- I usually choose the cheaper box, with the easiest-option whitening plan (i.e., 10 strips, 30 minutes just once a day) like those in the set seen above. They work, they work, they work. And while they work best when you use them as directed -- in order, every day, for 10 straight days -- you can also use them sporadically, like before a wedding, or whenever it is you want to look hot. I personally am never invited to weddings, but sometimes I'm invited to a special function at a bar or something, and I slap on a top and bottom strip for a big whitening boost while I take my shower. And it all adds up. The more you use these, the better your teeth look. End of story. They're the best! Next ...

Rembrandt Whitening Mint Toothpaste With Fluoride -- Intense Stain
Once again, I speak with authority about the brilliance and superiority of THIS particular toothpaste because I have been privy to every toothpaste in the world. $44 whitening toothpaste, French toothpaste, Italian toothpaste, toothpaste sold only in dentists' offices ... And this one is really the best for right-away whitening. It tastes good, but not too deliciously good (which I like because I never trust that), and it has micro-particles that sort of exfoliate the stains from your teeth without stripping the enamel (in fact, this toothpaste is good for enamel). I like to switch it up with my breath-freshening obsession toothpaste, the very awesome Listerine Essential Care Toothpaste Gel in Powerful Mint. Like, if you're going to be making out with anyone, the Listerine toothpaste is the way to go. It's agonizingly minty in that uniquely torturous way that makes any Listerine product so fabulously great, and it makes fresh breath last and last. (Although it's increasingly hard to find in stores -- what's up with that, Listerine?) But for everyday whitening, I'm a Rembrandt woman all the way. Speaking of which ...

Rembrandt Whitening Mouthwash With Fluoride Plus Peroxide in Fresh Mint
This $8 mouthwash is so good, whitening-wise, that it's insane. Because, seriously, before I used it I didn't really believe ii whitening mouthwashes, just like I still don't believe in whitening gum or whitening floss or whatever. But now when I run out of this mouthwash I feel hideous and paranoid! No, I just go buy more. I use it in tandem with the Rembrandt toothpaste above, and as I've never really used it with a different toothpaste, I can't say for sure that it is AS amazing with another brand of toothpaste as it is with its own. But it truly makes my teeth whiter, brighter, sparklier (go with it) and gleamier, and then I feel happier. After all, isn't that what dental hygiene is all about? No? Oh well. To each her own.


Now -- what are your whitening favorites? Did I leave anything out?

Cat Marnell was a magazine beauty editor before she was a beauty blogger. It sounds like she needs a lot of incentive to brush her teeth regularly like a normal adult, and it's true, she does.