Seeing everyone on television and in the movies with those mouths full of pearly whites can leave some people feeling self-conscious about not having the brightest smile. This is unfortunate because that lack of a bright, white smile can lead people to have lower self-esteem, directly affecting their quality of life.
Thankfully, teeth whitening is an option. But there are so many products out on the market; how do you know which one to use? Which one will be the most effective? The safest? There are a few questions to consider before whitening your teeth.
Talk to Your Dentist First
If you are considering whitening your teeth, especially if you are considering doing so with an at-home whitening kit, schedule an appointment and talk to your dentist first. There are some inherent risks you should know about that she will be able to discuss with you. First, she's going to point out that you might not need a whitening procedure.
Your dentist might be able to whiten your smile to that beautiful blinding white with a simple tooth cleaning. This should always be your first choice; it's safer being done by a professional, promotes quality oral health, and will allow your dentist to examine your mouth to make sure that you don't have any other issues that need addressed.
So Should I Bleach?
Most over-the-counter products are actually effective teeth whiteners. They should have a solution of 10% peroxide. There are some things to consider before using something as harsh and caustic on your teeth as peroxide though. Are your teeth sensitive? If so, peroxide likely isn't the best option for you.
Peroxide works by removing some of the outer layer of tooth enamel with the stains that are covering the tooth. Enamel is what protects your teeth. If they're already sensitive, whitening is only going to make them more so.
Another question to consider is where did your stains come from? Peroxide is not effective for removing all stains. It is generally most effective with yellow-tinted stains. Brown and gray stains, such as one might develop from smoking, are generally not removed as easily by peroxide.
Whitening might not enhance the color of your smile if you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in your teeth. Peroxide is not effective on these materials. So while it might whiten the real teeth that you have in your mouth, it will leave your smile discolored, patchy, and uneven. In these situations, one could consider another option, such as porcelain veneers.
Other Situations to Consider
- Have you talked to your dentist? What does he or she advise? Not all stains are removable with an over the counter whitening procedure. Your dentist will be able to point you in the right direction over this.
- If you are suffering from gum disease, sensitive teeth, or thinning enamel, your dentist should discourage you from whitening.
- Should you consider having the procedure done professionally? Dental supervision is recommended by the Academy of General Dentistry, even for at-home whitening procedures. Your dentist can perform a bleaching procedure in the office or at home.
- Although over-the-counter treatments are generally a bit cheaper than having the work done professionally, they take longer, aren't as effective, and have a greater chance of damaging the teeth and gums. This can lead to a much more serious need for a dentist quickly.
- In-office whitening procedures done professionally can last up to five years, depending on your eating, drinking, smoking, and oral hygiene habits.
Whether you decide to whiten your teeth or not, regular brushing and flossing go a long way toward promoting that healthy smile full of pearly whites. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, and come and get your smile back!