Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Nobody wants to be famous for their yellow teeth. But as we age, our smile begins to fade. Certain foods and drinks, as well as smoking, can cause discoloration and darkening of our teeth. Strips, gels and professional treatments can help you achieve a brighter smile.
At-home teeth whitening products like strips and gels have gained popularity, but are they really a safe way to brighten your smile? Or should you opt for in-office professional whitening treatments?
How does teeth whitening work?
At-home options include sticky strips or gel-filled trays are easily available over the counter, and they can do a great job lightening teeth and removing superficial stains. You may need to use at-home products daily for a week to achieve results. Place strips or tray on your teeth and leave it for the recommended time (make sure to follow the instructions as each product has different working time). Most at-home products contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, a chemical that contains hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down molecules that cause discoloration caused by coffee, tea, red wine and smoking. Carbamide peroxide does the same, but it releases about 50% of its whitening ability in the first few hours and can remain active for hours after. Overall, the effects of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide are the same.
Professional teeth whitening supervised by your dentist will use a stronger concentration of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The results are achieved in a short amount of time and will be longer-lasting than the take home options. This is associated with a higher cost compared to take-home options.
Is teeth whitening worth it? If your goal is to get a bright white smile, teeth whitening can be a safe option. But it’s important to talk to a dentist first about your options.Before considering any whitening treatment, you must see your dentist for a thorough exam and cleaning. Whitening teeth with untreated cavities may result in permanent tooth damage and may need complex treatment such as root canals. If you have sensitive teeth or gum recession it is highly recommended to whiten your teeth with your dentist's supervision to avoid further tooth sensitivity, gum recession or soft tissue damage. It’s possible that the changes are temporary and could reverse after a person stops using teeth bleaching products. If you drink coffee, tea, red wine, or smoke, the effects of teeth whitening may not be very long lasting. Speak to your dentist before choosing to whiten your teeth.
How to safely whiten your teeth? Bleaching products have been around for decades, and millions of people use them. Dentists haven’t seen an increase in problems like cavity risk or tooth fractures after bleaching, making these products relatively safe and effective If you do use them, keep in mind:
Follow the instructions. Some products are designed to be used once a day, while others can be used twice a day. Some, you use for a week, some, for two to see optimal results. To protect your teeth, be sure to follow the product’s instructions.
See your dentist. Ask your dentist if these products are right for you. Bleaching products work best on teeth that have yellowed with aging, or teeth that are stained from food and drink. But brown or gray discoloration could signal problems that a bleaching kit won’t fix. You must treat gum disease or cavities before starting a bleaching treatment.
Listen to your teeth. Some people develop temporary sensitivity in their gums or teeth when using whitening products. That’s not a sign of long-term damage, but it can be uncomfortable. If it happens to you, consider taking a break from bleaching or switching to a milder product.
How to avoid stains on your teeth? You can take steps to keep your teeth sparkling so you won’t have to use teeth bleaching products often.
Brush thoroughly twice a day (and don’t forget to floss).
Limit stain offenders like coffee, tea and red wine.
Go for regular dental cleanings to remove plaque and surface stains.
Teeth whitening products- whether at home or at the office can be effective and safe, if used correctly. If you want a brighter smile, teeth whitening products can be good tools, but they aren’t a substitute for good dental hygiene and routine dental visits