How to Score a Perfect Smile

We sort through the plethora of fancy toothbrushes and whitening products to give you the lowdown on what really works.

Americans are putting a lot of money where their mouths are -- $3.4 billion a year on oral care, to be exact. And why not? A great smile can make you look younger and feel more confident. Our guide offers you the latest options to chew on.

Weird shapes: Worth it?

We asked three top dentists (see list below) to weigh in on whether four updated brush styles have major benefits

1.The new inexpensive battery-operated brushes -- likeCrest SpinBrush Pro, Oral-B CrossAction PowerandColgate Motion-- claim to remove more plaque. Our experts said: Although manuals are also good at nixing plaque, power motion and a smaller head size make brushing efficient and controlled and may encourage kids to brush longer. Colgate ranked number one for its comfy handle; our docs found its effectiveness comparable to that of pricey powered brushes. SpinBrush Pro, $6.99, from Crest; at mass merchandisers. CrossAction Power, $6.99, from Oral-B; at mass merchandisers. Motion, $5.99, from Colgate; at mass merchandisers.

2. Radius toothbrush-- with three times more bristles than is standard -- was created because its designers felt that normal brushes were too small. Our experts said: The bristles are soft (which is a good thing), but the large head can be difficult to maneuver, and some users may feel it's too big for their mouth. Radius toothbrush, $8.99, from Radius; at mass merchandisers.

3. Mentadent says itsWhite & Clean"e;whitening ribbon"e; helps remove stains. Our experts said: Unlikely. In their opinion, the brush is fine, but the ribbon offers no added advantage. White & Clean toothbrush, $2.99, from Mentadent; at mass merchandisers.

4. Oral-B CrossAction Vitalizer, Reach Max, Colgate Massager andCrest Massage Plushave rubber-pronged "e;massagers"e; that the companies claim promote gum health. Our experts said: Massaging isn't as important as plaque removal -- plus, due to the prongs' length and thickness, you have to press hard to get the regular bristles to make contact with your teeth. CrossAction Vitalizer toothbrush, $3.99, from Oral-B; at mass merchandisers. Max toothbrush, $3.99, from Reach; at mass merchandisers. Massager toothbrush, $3.29, from Colgate; at mass merchandisers. Massage Plus toothbrush, $3.49, from Crest; at mass merchandisers.

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Before RADIUS® embarks on making a new product, we put the concept through an evaluation to make sure that we are not just making some more landfill in the name of progress.