Why whiten your teeth?
For many reasons, teeth may become stained over time, which causes them to lose their natural whiteness. This can occur for a number of reasons that include lifestyle choices (such as tobacco use), eating habits (consuming beverages such as sugary drinks, tea or coffee), and even some medications. Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that many patients find can increase their confidence by helping them reveal their whitest, brightest smile.
What are my options for whitening teeth?
There are several different whitening methods available:
- Your dental hygienist can complete in-office professional whitening, usually in one or two appointments
- Whiten your teeth with custom-made at-home professional whitening kits from your dentist's office
- Over-the-counter products from a pharmacy, which are done without supervision by a dentist or a dental hygienist
How safe is it to whiten (bleach) my teeth?
Professional teeth whitening treatments, in most cases, are both safe and effective. Providing you follow the directions, over-the-counter products are, again in most cases, quite safe as well. Professional teeth whitening (both in-office and at-home versions) are normally overseen by your dental professional, therefore any issues that may arise can be handled before becoming more serious.
Professional treatment is, on average, quicker and more effective as they use stronger whitening solutions than over-the-counter products. This could mean fewer treatments to achieve your desired result.
Be aware that professional at-home teeth whitening is a process that usually takes longer than in-office treatment. This is due to the amount of hydrogen peroxide being used. In-office treatments can use up to 43% hydrogen peroxide. This is because the dentist is there and can control the amount of hydrogen peroxide and how it is used.
Take-home treatments normally use around 5% of hydrogen peroxide. While this does mean the treatment will take longer, there is less risk if you accidentally make a mistake during treatment. Remember, the lower amount of hydrogen peroxide is for your safety.
Over-whitening or whitening too frequently might cause damage to your teeth or gums, so be sure to discuss the protocol your dentist recommends for you and let them know of any questions you have. Your dentist is there to assure you of the safety of the treatment.
Are there side effects to teeth whitening?
The most common side effect is temporary gum irritation if the solution comes into contact with your gums. Should this happen, any irritation will most likely subside shortly after the treatment. However, feel free to contact your dentist if you start to worry.