Among my ever so meager vices, coffee and cola reign supreme. No matter how hard I try to kick the habit, I am a slave to caffeine and its attendant annoyances, by which I mean stained teeth. Add an occasional glass of red wine to the mix, and my pearly whites are doomed to forever look soiled. When a Supersmile professional whitening kit arrived unsolicited with my name on it, I was afraid someone was trying to tell me something.

Supersmile is designed as a daily oral care routine that not only whitens teeth, but also strengthens them and improves gum health. The foundation of the Supersmile system is a whitening toothpaste and an accelerator. Meant to be used in tandem, these products combine whitening, breath-freshening, and cavity-fighting ingredients. The accelerator is designed for use with Supersmile's whitening toothpaste, though any peroxide-based toothpaste will join forces in the same way.

Supersmile's whitening toothpaste is allegedly the #1 recommended whitening toothpaste by cosmetic dentists. I do not quibble about this claim considering its impressive safety profile. As the only whitening toothpaste that is clinically proven to work on both natural tooth surfaces and artificial implants, such as bondings, veneers, caps, crowns, and dentures, Supersmile uses relatively gentle ingredients to get the job done. Instead of harsh abrasives, which compromise tooth enamel, or whitening agents that penetrate the tooth surface, which causes tooth sensitivity, Supersmile's secret sauce draws on a proprietary ingredient that returns tooth surfaces to their original whiteness.

Called Calprox, this non-abrasive ingredient contains encapsulated calcium peroxide, a bleaching agent that dissolves the protein pellicle to which stains, plaque, and bacteria adhere. In addition, Supersmile includes carbamide peroxide (carbomer 934), which is the main whitening component in the accelerator (joined by urea peroxide). It is also the primary active agent in Nuvorawhite Teeth Whitening Lozenges, which failed to make the faintest difference on Marta's teeth. The combination of these two ingredients, however, makes magic. I was astounded to witness noticeably brighter teeth after a single brushing with the toothpaste/accelerator combination. After a full week of use, my teeth are shades lighter and have not suffered the slightest sensitivity (which has been a recurring hurdle with both over-the-counter strips and professional trays).

I also noticed that my teeth feel incredible clean and polished. It's no wonder since dicalcium phosphate dihydrate has been used for many years as a dental polishing material. Also known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate gently polishes teeth, neutralizes bacterial biofilms, and kills on contact all microorganisms associated with periodontal infections. Its "micro-pulverized" cousin is what makes Elgydium toothpate special. Though sodium bicarbonate has the added benefit of masking odors, it didn't do my mouth any favors in terms of fresh breath. I found myself craving the garlic-masking minty blast of my Colgate. Having caught on to this shortcoming, Supersmile recently released two new flavors- Icy Mint and Cinnamon Burst.

Beyond whitening and polishing the teeth, Supersmile's toothpaste is beneficial to the enamel. Calcium and phosphates help re-mineralize the enamel, thus strengthening teeth. Sodium monofluorophosphate, an anti-plaque agent, protects tooth enamel from attack by bacteria, hence cavities. Supersmile may win points with the safe surfactant sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, but these points are deducted for the presence of two regrettable parabens.

The inventor of the Supersmile system is Dr. Irwin Smigel. Though his name conjures visions of a deformed Hobbit creature, the doctor appears as a good-humored elderly professional in photos. Dubbed the "father of aesthetic dentistry," Dr. Smigel is President of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. In spite of his impressive credentials, the doctor seems to be lacking in math skills. The instructions for use of the whitening toothpaste and accelerator are to combine equal amounts on a dry toothbrush and brush in small circles for two minutes. Not only is this a tall order on a daily basis, requiring multiple tubes of varying sizes (which means that the products will run out at different times), but it can get messy. Nonetheless, it is a quicker alternative to trays.

Also, the instructions appear to be guidelines, rather than rules set in stone. I tried using the paste followed by the gel and was rewarded with the same white smile. I also experimented with my electric toothbrush (perfectly fine) and even a wet toothbrush, which somehow seemed to dissolve the mixture before reaching my teeth. Supersmile indicates that the encapsulated Calprox activates when it mixes with the saliva in your mouth.

Apart from the pair of products that make up Supersmile's original whitening system, I did not find anything I would want to incorporate into my daily routine. I would never trade in my electric toothbrush for Supersmile's supposedly ergonomic, nylon-bristled toothbrush, and I could not bear to rinse with the Whitening Pre-Rinse regularly. This alcohol-free rinse, loaded with hydrogen peroxide, reminds me of getting my mouth washed out with soap when I misbehaved as a child. Not only did it make me gag for several minutes after gurgling, but it made anything I ate to disguise the flavor taste like chemicals. More importantly, it did nothing to enhance the exceptional whitening effect of the toothpaste/accelerator products. This combo is all I need to maintain my super sparkling smile.

Accelerator Ingredients: Deionized Water, Glycerine, Urea Peroxide, Triethanolamine, Carbomer 934, Flavor, Sodium Saccharinate, Etidronic Acid, Ethylene Diamine Tetra Acetate.

Whitening Toothpaste Active Ingredients: Sodium Monofluorophosphate (0.14% W/v Fluoride Ion). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sorbitol, Dicalcium Phosphate Dihydrate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Calcium Carbonate, Titanium Dioxide, Cellulose Gum, Calprox (Calcium Peroxide), Sodium Perborate, Flavor, Corn Starch, Magnesium Carbonate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Methylparaben, Sodium Saccharin, Propylparaben.

Whitening Pre-Rinse Ingredients: Deionized Water, Hydrogen Peroxide, Sodium Bicarbonate, Tetra Potassium Pyrophosphate, Potassium Carbonate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Cetyl Pyridinium Chloride, Sodium Sacchrinate, Tween 20, Glycerine, Sorbitol, Flavor, Malic Acid.