Safely Whitening Your Teeth: What You Need to Know

Having a bright, white smile is something that many people strive for. But with so many teeth whitening products on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is the safest and most effective. The truth is that the best, most durable and sustainable way to whiten your teeth is with personalized whitening gel trays that are custom made and adjusted by your dentist based on unique impressions of your teeth. Dentists can provide an analysis of the color of your teeth that will include the reason your teeth have darkened, the fact that existing restorations may not change color, and recommendations on a teeth whitening regimen that fits your needs.

Generally, the effects of whitening strips and gels can be seen several days after use, while whitening toothpastes may take longer. Whitening gels are transparent peroxide-based gels that are applied with a small brush directly to the surface of the teeth. Low-cost electric toothbrushes have teeth whitening benefits similar to those that cost hundreds of dollars. By contrast, prescription whitening done in the dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.

The American Dental Association's Policy on Teeth Whitening Administered by Non-Dentists highlights its full support in educating the public about the possibility of consulting a dentist, who will determine if whitening is the most appropriate treatment. Teeth whitening products, whether an over-the-counter option used at home or professional treatment, can be effective and safe if used correctly. To get the most out of whitening, maintain a solid oral care routine (brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and using a mouthwash daily), and avoid staining beverages and foods, such as coffee and red wine. After completing your whitening regimen, consider limiting your intake of brightly colored, stain-causing foods and liquids that you ate before your whitening regimen.

There is no evidence that the teeth whitening process has a detrimental effect on tooth nerve health. However, tooth decay, cracked teeth, or exposed roots in the gums can cause tooth sensitivity, which can be worsened by whitening agents. Some more “natural” whitening strips don't use whitening products, but instead use other whitening agents to remove stains. This customization allows maximum contact between the whitening gel, which is applied to the nozzle tray, and the teeth.

Graham Martin
Graham Martin

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