5 Things to Know About Teeth Whitening

A bright, sparkling smile can make all the difference in your appearance and be the first thing people notice about you when you walk into a room. Teeth naturally dull from wear and tear and certain medical issues, and some habits like smoking, drinking, and eating certain foods can speed the process. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with dingy and discolored teeth. Thanks to professional teeth whitening, you can get your dream smile in a safe environment. Here are five things you need to know about teeth whitening:

It’s not for everyone. Professional teeth whitening in a dentist’s office is the best method and the one that produces the highest-quality results. Before the whitening procedure, most dentists will perform a consultation to discuss your dental history, overall health, and teeth goals. This consultation is important to discuss any nagging dental issues, as many teeth and gum problems will need to be addressed before teeth whitening can occur. In general, children younger than 16, those with orthodontic treatments, or patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding are discouraged from teeth whitening.

There are teeth whitening treatment options. One look at the oral health aisle at the store will tell you there are lots of choices when it comes to teeth whitening, but the treatments typically fall into two categories: a take-home treatment or an in-office treatment. Take-home kits use special trays created from molds of your teeth, which are then filled with whitening gel and applied for a few days in a row. Treatment in the dentist’s office may produce quicker results and uses a whitening gel and a special light.

It’s safe. Most teeth whitening procedures use a peroxide-based system. Professionally applied treatments typically have 35%-40% hydrogen peroxide, while over-the-counter products have up to 10% hydrogen peroxide. These types of peroxide compounds are regularly used in a variety of dental treatments and have been for years; there is strong scientific evidence that the compounds and treatment are very safe. However, the FDA doesn’t regulate teeth whitening products, and there has been some inconclusive evidence regarding the effects hydrogen products can have on teeth in very highly concentrated amounts. The American Dental Association puts a seal of approval on many dentist-distributed teeth whitening products. It’s important to note that not every safe product has the seal; however, with proper application they can still be used safely.

Most people experience sensitivity. Teeth whitening, especially when performed by a dentist, is a fairly low-risk procedure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any side effects. The most commonly reported side effect is sensitivity, but other people report irritated gums or blistering. Talk to your dentist if you notice any of these occurrences after your treatment. Your dentist can help eliminate or minimize sensitivity.

Results are different for everyone. There are a lot of factors related to teeth whitening. Some people have healthier tooth enamel, or stains that are easier to break through, so their teeth get whiter faster. Others may have built-up stains that take longer to remove. Speak with a dentist before starting a teeth whitening treatment, either at home or professionally done in an office, for advice and recommendations.

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