Teeth Whitening and the Facts You Need to Know
Teeth whitening is one of the most popular dental treatments available today, but did you realize dentists only discovered teeth whitening accidentally? Originally, dentists would treat gum disease with mouth rinse containing hydrogen peroxide and noticed that the patient’s teeth turned whiter when they used these mouth rinses.
Now, modern tooth whitening is available everywhere you look. You can easily purchase over-the-counter whitening kits, and a quick internet search reveals many different products, including whitening gels and strips. So, how does tooth whitening work and which is the safest and most effective way to brighten your smile?
Teeth Whitening or Teeth Bleaching
Teeth whitening is frequently called teeth bleaching because it uses hydrogen peroxide or products that will release hydrogen peroxide when mixed with air or water. The hydrogen peroxide can penetrate tooth enamel, lifting deep-seated stains and brightening the overall appearance of your teeth. The actual concentration of the active ingredient or hydrogen peroxide in whitening gels varies tremendously, and from country to country.
In some countries, only dentists may use hydrogen peroxide concentrations stronger than 0.1%, while in other countries the rules governing teeth whitening are very different. Consequently, depending on where you live, you may see teeth whitening being offered by people who don’t have any dental training, for example, beauticians.
You could also see teeth whitening treatments being advertised where they claim the products are peroxide-free. If this is the case, proceed with caution because even though these products may be peroxide-free before use, once activated they almost certainly contain hydrogen peroxide in some form. Otherwise, products that don’t contain any hydrogen peroxide are unlikely to make a significant difference to the color of your teeth.
A Word of Caution About DIY or Over-The-Counter Whitening Products
It is possible to buy over-the-counter whitening products very cheaply which is obviously extremely tempting. However, when wrongly used or if you buy a product that is too strong for your teeth, it could damage them irreversibly. Also, some people tend to over-bleach their teeth using these DIY products, leaving them on their teeth for too long or using them too frequently. Instead of whitening your teeth, overusing bleaching products will have the opposite effect, removing so much color that eventually teeth look gray and lifeless.
Far from giving you a smile that looks youthful and healthy, you’ll end up with teeth that look unhealthy and dead, and prematurely aged. It is far better and much more effective to see your dentist for a professional tooth whitening treatment. Even if you don’t want to go down this route, you should still have a complete dental checkup before using any whitening product.
Why Is a Dental Checkup Essential before Tooth Whitening?
If you have your teeth professionally whitened, your dentist will want to check your dental health before prescribing any product or treatment. This is to make sure your teeth don’t have any signs of disease such as untreated tooth decay, or that you don’t have any fillings that are leaking or crumbling. Also, it’s essential to ensure your gums are strong and healthy and free from infection and disease.
The reason why it’s so important is that using whitening products in an unhealthy mouth will at the very least cause tooth sensitivity, and in the worst case could cause pain. Identifying any potential dental problems and treating them beforehand reduces the risk of experiencing any sensitivity or pain significantly.
There’s also another reason why a dental checkup is essential before treatment, and that is to make sure tooth whitening is the most appropriate procedure for your dental needs. Many people don’t realize that any dental restorations like tooth-colored fillings, crowns, and veneers will not change color when you use tooth whitening products. These whitening products are only effective on natural teeth.
Unfortunately, if you do have any restorations then using whitening products could cause uneven results. It’s a problem that’s unlikely to be picked up by someone without any formal dental training because they won’t be able accurately identify any dental restorations accurately.
Enjoy Peace of Mind with a Professional Tooth Whitening Treatment
Your adult teeth are incredibly precious, and with the right care they should last for life, so why take the chance of harming them with products that are unsafe for use? Professional teeth whitening treatments are extremely affordable, and you are guaranteed of receiving excellent results. Otherwise, your dentist would never recommend such a treatment for you! With a professional teeth whitening treatment, you get a procedure carefully tailored to meet your dental needs.
For example, the exact strength of whitening gel is adjusted to ensure any unpleasant side-effects like tooth sensitivity are minimized or eliminated. Often, teeth are strengthened during or after whitening with professional applications of fluoride. Best of all, you are assured of receiving an evenly white and naturally healthy smile that looks fabulous.
In-Office or Custom-Made Whitening Kits?
Most dentists offer patients a choice of two treatments. The first is to whiten in the dental office which is a treatment that can take as little as an hour, brightening teeth by several shades. During this treatment, your gums and lips are protected while your teeth are painted with professional strength whitening gel. Your dentist may activate the gel with a light, or they may wait for the gel to activate naturally. Usually, the gel is wiped off and reapplied several times during treatment to obtain the desired results.
A custom whitening kit takes a little longer but includes whitening trays made to fit precisely over your teeth. You will be shown how to fill the trays with whitening gel supplied with the kit, and how to insert them into your mouth. It’s simply a matter of wearing the whitening trays for a few hours each day or overnight for approximately two weeks.
One nice advantage of a home whitening kit is that normally the whitening trays are reusable, provided your teeth don’t change shape or position, for example, if you need a new crown or other dental treatments. Some people choose to use a combination of both treatments to obtain the very best outcome, safely and affordable.
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