Pearly-whites without paying a fortune: Homemade teeth whitening

While much of my early childhood was spent staring at the huge, goofily unironic smiles of seventies icons like Donny and Marie Osmond, Jimmy Carter, and John Denver, I came into my own during the far less cheery 1980's and 1990's. When I was in high school and college, grimaces were in: from Sting's pained expressions to George H.W. Bush's fatherly frown, my adolescence and early adulthood spooled out in the era of closed mouths and ironic half-smiles. Accordingly, my own ironic smile doesn't show too many teeth.

Even so, years of cigarettes, coffee, and red wine have definitely taken their toll, rendering my teeth a delightful shade of khaki. Recently, while looking in the mirror at a smile that would make the Osmonds run in horror, I decided that it might be a good idea to give my mouth a 50,000 mile overhaul. My wife, who used to work for an orthodontist, is foursquare against dental whitening, both because of the considerable expense and because she has seen too many teeth severely damaged by excessive bleaching. Consequently, I decided to check out some inexpensive home remedies for my delightfully khaki teeth.

Based on my research and product testing, I've compiled (and tried) a few useful techniques for putting the gleam back in your smile while keeping money in your pocket. While I was at it, I also decided to debunk a few classic remedies: