Safety Tips for Bleaching Your Teeth

Everyone seems to want a brighter smile, and teeth whitening is a great option for boosting your confidence. If food and drinks have stained your pearly whites, you may be tempted to rush to the drug store and pick up the first over-the-counter whitening product you find. However, while side effects from whitening products are rare, you should follow these tips before bleaching your teeth to ensure your safety.

See Your Dentist First

If your teeth appear stained, don’t assume you need to bleach them. It’s possible a good teeth cleaning will restore the sparkle to your smile. During an oral exam, your dentist will also check for cavities and gum issues, which should be treated before bleaching your teeth.

Know What to Look for in Over-the-Counter Teeth Bleaching Products

At-home whiteners most often use carbamide peroxide in concentrations ranging from 10 to 20 percent. Carbamide peroxide is hydrogen peroxide with urea added. This product remains active for up to 10 hours at a low enough acidity level that enamel etching is not a concern.

Start with a product containing 10 percent carbamide peroxide. If the whitener doesn’t bother your mouth, but you don’t see the results you want, try another over-the-counter product with a higher concentration.

Follow the Directions

When you choose an at-home teeth bleaching kit, it’s your responsibility to follow the instructions on the package. Don’t leave the gel or strips on your teeth longer than advised or you could experience tooth sensitivity and sore gums. Also, avoid drinking soda, sports drinks or other sugary/acidic beverages for several hours after whitening to prevent etching your teeth.

Consider Professional In-Office Teeth Bleaching

At-home whitening kits are inexpensive and widely available, but that doesn’t make them the best choice. Professional in-office teeth bleaching can lighten your smile up to eight shades in a single 45-minute visit. Combined with professional-grade take-home treatments, patients see an average improvement of 11 shades. In comparison, over-the-counter whitening requires daily 30-minute applications for more than two weeks to achieve a six-shade improvement.

In-office whitening uses LED light-activated technology to maximize results in the shortest amount of time without causing tooth sensitivity. It’s effective both for people who simply want to lighten their smile and for patients with severely discolored teeth.

Know When Not to Bleach Your Teeth

Whitening isn’t right for everyone. Keep these factors in mind:

  • Pregnant women and nursing mothers should postpone teeth bleaching.
  • Whitening doesn’t affect composite, ceramic and porcelain materials. This means if you decide to brighten your natural teeth, you may be left with darker-colored fillings, crowns and
  • Translucent teeth don’t respond well to whitening. A tooth-colored composite placed on the lingual side of a see-through tooth is a more effective way to improve its appearance.

Zen Dental Center in Seattle offers Philips Zoom in-office teeth bleaching for safe, professional results. To learn more about this treatment, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 206-324-1100 today.

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