Why whiten your teeth?
Teeth can become stained over time, causing them to lose their natural whiteness. This can happen for several reasons, some of which include ageing, lifestyle choices (such as tobacco use), eating habits (consuming beverages such as coffee or tea or other sugary drinks), and even some medications. Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that many patients find can increase their confidence by helping them put their brightest, whitest smile forward.
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, in most cases, are both safe and effective. Providing you follow the directions, over-the-counter products are, again in most cases, quite safe as well. Professional teeth whitening (both in-office and at-home versions) is normally overseen by your dental professional, therefore any issues that may arise can be handled before becoming more serious.
Professional treatment is, on average, quicker and more effective as they use stronger whitening solutions than over-the-counter products. This could mean fewer treatments to achieve your desired result.
Be aware that professional at-home teeth whitening is a process that usually takes longer than in-office treatment. This is due to the amount of hydrogen peroxide being used. In-office treatments can use up to 43% hydrogen peroxide. This is because the dentist is there and can control the amount of hydrogen peroxide and how it is used.
Take-home treatments normally use around 5% of hydrogen peroxide. While this does mean the treatment will take longer, there is less risk if you accidentally make a mistake during treatment. Remember, the lower amount of hydrogen peroxide is for your safety.
Over-whitening or whitening too frequently might cause damage to your teeth or gums, so be sure to discuss the protocol your dentist recommends for you and let them know of any questions you have. Your dentist is there to assure you of the safety of the treatment.
Are there side effects to teeth whitening?
The most common side effect is temporary gum irritation if the solution comes into contact with your gums. Should this happen, any irritation will most likely subside shortly after the treatment. However, feel free to contact your dentist if you start to worry.