With so many teeth whitening products on the market, a bright smile is seemingly available to every one of us. And as much as we all want the sparkling smiles of Hollywood, new questions arise when it comes to the safety of these products and procedures. The simple answer is that teeth whitening is always safe when performed in a dental office under dentist supervision. But what about your other options?
As long as the instructions for home treatments are followed, side-effects are rare—though not absent. A percent of patients reports higher sensitivity in their teeth and gums after whitening. This and other side-effects are not common, but no one wants to be the one who suffers them. To give you a fair shake at avoiding them, we’ve provided you with some guidelines to help you brighten your smile without added risks.
- Consult with your dentist before undergoing any teeth whitening procedure, including the ones that can be performed at home. After a regular check-up and professional cleaning, tooth polishing is often enough to get that “shine” back, and you might leave satisfied. With your dentist’s review of your teeth, you’ll also discover whether there’s any decay, since your teeth need to be completely healthy in order for whitening products to be totally risk-free. Your dentist is also equipped to consult you on which method will work best for your teeth, and what other options you have that you hadn’t thought about.
- Choose your product wisely. Teeth whitening products that you can use at home often contain 15% carbamide peroxide, but this high concentration can be dangerous if you haven’t had your teeth whitened before. Select a product with less of this active ingredient if you can. If your teeth react well, you can switch to products with a higher concentration.
- Always stick to the package instructions. They are crafted around the trials and studies of that product, so rest assured that they’re written with your safety in mind. It’s important to adhere to the guidelines, as much for your health as to make sure the product works like it should.
- During and after the whitening application, avoid acidic drinks and food such as energizer drinks, coffee, tea, and citrus fruits. Tobacco is another big “no.” In general, any food that colors your teeth can have a greater negative impact while active whitening chemicals are at work.
- Come with realistic expectations. For example, dental fillings can’t be bleached with any whitening product, so if you notice inconsistencies along your dental restorations, this is to be expected. You can consider getting new fillings put in for greater consistency.
- Be prepared for potentially increased sensitivity of your teeth or gums. If this sensitivity becomes serious or interrupts eating habits, you should either change products or ask your dentist whether you should continue with whitening at all.
- Protect your teeth with fluorine after any whitening procedure. Fluorine is an element that aids dentin recovery, and is also ideal for eliminating bacteria and helping cavities to heal—or at least stymieing the decay. There is a small concentration of fluorine in most toothpaste and mouthwash.
Don’t let yourself become addicted to tooth whitening, or go overboard with any treatment. If you’ve followed the instructions and see results, wait a while before you start with the process again. Once per month is more than enough, while professional treatment is recommended only once every six months.