Why whiten your teeth?
Teeth can become stained over time, resulting in a loss of natural whiteness. This can occur due to a variety of factors, including ageing, lifestyle choices (such as tobacco use), eating habits (consumption of beverages such as coffee, tea, or other sugary drinks), and even some medications. Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that many patients find boosts their confidence by allowing them to show off their brightest, whitest smile.
What are the options for whitening teeth?
Whitening can be done in several different ways:
- 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
How safe is it to whiten (bleach) my teeth?
Professional teeth whitening treatments are generally both safe and effective. Again, as long as you follow the directions, over-the-counter products are generally safe. Professional teeth whitening (both in-office and at-home versions) is usually overseen by your dentist, so any issues that may arise can be addressed before they become more serious.
Professional whitening treatments are typically faster and more effective than over-the-counter products because they use stronger whitening solutions. This may necessitate fewer treatments to achieve the desired result.
Keep in mind that professional at-home teeth whitening usually takes longer than in-office treatment. This is because of the amount of hydrogen peroxide used. In-office treatments can contain up to 43% hydrogen peroxide. This is because the dentist is present and has control over the amount of hydrogen peroxide used and how it is used.
Take-home treatments typically contain around 5% hydrogen peroxide. While this means the treatment will take longer, there is less risk if you make an error during treatment. Remember that the lower the amount of hydrogen peroxide, the better.
Over-whitening or whitening too frequently may cause damage to your teeth or gums, so talk to your dentist about the protocol he or she recommends for you and ask any questions you have. Your dentist is there to reassure you that the treatment is safe.
Are there side effects to teeth whitening?
If the solution comes into contact with your gums, the most common side effect is temporary gum irritation. If this occurs, any resulting irritation will most likely subside shortly after the treatment. However, if you become concerned, do not hesitate to contact your dentist.