It’s important to note that over time teeth naturally become darker. Which is why it may seem like your teeth never get quite as white as you’d like them to be. Your daily habits can also contribute to the discoloration you experience; things like drinking coffee, tea, or wine, smoking, and not completing a regular oral hygiene routine to remove surface stains. Sometimes just regular brushing and flossing at home in collaboration with regular deep cleanings at the dentist can do the trick.
Regardless of how the stains occurred, it’s important to check with your dentist prior to undergoing any whitening treatments so that you can ensure your mouth is healthy and your teeth can actually become whiter. Some stains will respond to whitening products (typically yellow stains) while others won’t (brown or grayish stains). You should also keep in mind that if you’ve had dental work done, such as fillings or implants, whitener won’t affect the materials that were used.
Is it Safe to Whiten Them?
Yes, and no. Whitening done by a dental professional is generally safe. They can make sure that your mouth is healthy and that your teeth will actually whiten prior to beginning treatment, and they can help you manage any side effects that occur (typically temporary tooth sensitivity). Going through your dentist can have faster and more reliable results without the risks of irritation and damage that can accompany OTC treatments.
If you’re whitening your teeth at home, without the help of a dentist, it’s critical to the health of your teeth that you read the package directions carefully and that you don’t continue treatments indefinitely. These treatments are not supposed to be used continuously, but many people do so anyway as they strive for perfectly white teeth. If you maintain a good oral health routine, it can be convenient to use at home whitening strips as a little touch up if your teeth are looking a bit stained. Otherwise, they should not be used for more than two weeks at a time, and not more often than every 4-6 months.
When the peroxide in the whitener gels gets through your tooth enamel to the soft layer of dentin, it will irritate the nerve of your tooth and create sensitivity. Sometimes it is minor, but other times it can be extremely painful. If this happens, you should lay off the whitening products for a while and give your teeth a break. You should also use caution with trays that aren’t custom fitted to your mouth as they can press peroxide onto your gums or spill the whitening solution and cause irritation.
Bottom line? Be careful, consult a dentist, and set realistic expectations for your teeth. Your mouth is unique to you, and you can’t compare the level of whiteness you’ve achieved to that of someone else. Your oral health should always come first.
If you have concerns about your teeth and gums prior to pursuing a whitening treatment, Dr. Kenzik can help you evaluate your oral health, and decide whether teeth whitening is right for you.