Why should I whiten my teeth?
There are many reasons why teeth can get stained over time and lose their natural whiteness such as lifestyle choices (like using tobacco), aging, eating habits (drinking beverages such as tea, coffee, and other sugary drinks), as well as taking certain medications. Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that many patients find can increase their confidence by helping them put their brightest, whitest smile forward.
What teeth whitening options are available to me?
Here are several teeth whitening options:
- In-office professional whitening by your dental hygienist, usually in one or two appointments
- At-home professional whitening with take-home kits from your dentist's office custom-made for you
- Over-the-counter products from a pharmacy, which are done without supervision by a dentist or a dental hygienist
Is it safe to have my teeth whitened (bleached)?
Most of the time professional teeth whitening treatments can be both effective and safe. As long are you carefully follow the directions, the majority of over-the-counter products are also relatively safe. 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.
Your teeth and gums could become damaged if you over-whiten or whiten too often, therefore it's important to talk to your dentist about this protocol, to see what they recommend for you, and so you can ask them any questions you might have. Your dentist is there to assure you of the safety of the treatment.
What are the side effects of 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.