Teeth Whitening: Is it for Me and What are My Options?

Selecting a product really depends on the degree of whitening you are looking for and the state your teeth are in – rather than pointing to a specific brand, make your decision based on what will work best given your current oral health.

Before designing a teeth whitening plan, it is recommended that you visit a dentist to examine, clean and repair your teeth to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Your dentist then has the opportunity to ensure you are not at increased risk for sensitivity or root damage. Also, brushing at least twice daily and flossing every day can help remove stains that darken your teeth.

Whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes help remove stains only on enamel surfaces. Today, many of these whitening products have very miniscule amounts of hydrogen peroxide, the active whitening ingredient, but not enough to remove stains that are deeper than the surface level. These products alone are not strong enough to lighten teeth.

Whitening gels that are brushed directly on teeth or placed in a non-custom mouth tray and whitening strips that adhere to teeth are generally only effective on yellow-colored teeth, as opposed to brownish or greyish stains. Application is relatively easy and additional assistance is usually provided online on the product’s website. This whitening process takes longer and you probably won’t achieve the same level of whitening as in the dentist’s office due to the lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide, however most people will see some visible results over time. Tooth sensitivity is a risk, especially if you already have worn enamel or gum disease. Not to mention, easy access to whitening products makes over usage a concern in the oral health community.

Usually, whitening gels distributed by a dentist have a much higher concentration of the whitening ingredient – carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide – than over-the-counter products and are applied under the careful supervision of a dentist. That higher concentration product can whiten teeth quickly by an average of 5-7 shades lighter. But similar to the other options, there remains a risk of tooth sensitivity after use.

It is important to know that end results for whitening are widely variable. In fact, none of the whitening products will change the shade of dental restorations (composite fillings, crowns, bridges, implants). Teeth should be whitened prior to starting cosmetic dental treatment, as there is no way to guarantee a shade match once the cosmetic work has been completed. Tooth whitening should not be done if you have any untreated dental cavities or gum disease as this may increase the chances of tooth nerve damage to these teeth.

Whiter teeth can make you feel younger and more attractive. But do you want whiter teeth at the expense of a healthy, pain-free mouth? Understanding the different ways to whiten your teeth with help from a dental professional can help you make an informed decision about brightening your smile.

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This blog is designed to provide general information and discussions about health and dental-related subjects. No doctor/dentist to patient relationship is established by your use of this blog or website. We are not providing any treatment or diagnosis on this blog, and it is not intended to offer specific dental or medical advice to anyone. The information or other content provided in this blog is not a substitute for professional dental expertise or treatment. We will do our best to provide you with information that will help you make your own healthcare decisions, however no guarantees or warranties are made regarding any of the information contained within this blog. If you have questions about any of the information presented on this blog, you should consult with your dentist. The dentists at Advantage Dental+ are licensed to practice in the states of Alabama, Florida, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas and this blog is not intended to solicit patients from other states. External links may be provided on this blog as a service and convenience to our patients and other visitors to our blog. These external sites are created and maintained by other public and private organizations, and we do not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance or timeliness of any outside information.

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Gary Allen, DMD, Advantage Dental Group, P.C. | James Thommes, DDS, Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Massachusetts, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health And Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Oklahoma, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Texas, P.C. | Cory White, DMD, Advantage Dental Oral Health and Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C. | John Clasen, OD, Advantage Dental Oral Health and Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C. | Neil Williams, DMD, Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Florida, PA