One of the most common aspects of dental health that we talk about with our patients is teeth whitening. While mostly a cosmetic aspect of your dental health, a brighter, healthier smile supports overall confidence and mental health for our patients.
Still, there are many options when it comes to teeth whitening. Last year we outlined the various teeth whitening options you have, but here’s a quick recap:
- Pastes & Rinses: There are many products that can help improve the brightness of your smile. We can provide specific product recommendations at your next appointment.
- Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Kits: Coming in the form of liquids, strips, gels and trays, there are many over-the-counter teeth whitening kits. Results vary and the length of treatment does as well.
- Professional-Grade Kits: There are some teeth whitening products that can only be purchased directly from your dentist. Ask your dentist if they offer anything like that.
- In-Office Treatments: Under the supervision of a professional, your dentist can do a concentrated, safe and fast-acting treatment.
Before you decided how you will approach whitening your teeth, it helps to understand the main causes of tooth discoloration. There are two primary types of discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic discoloration is a result of foods, drinks and tobacco use that can result in stained teeth. Coffees, teas and other foods with dyes can result in this kind of discoloration.
Intrinsic discoloration can occur from within the tooth itself. We often see this kind of discoloration as a side effect of medication use, illness, infection, trauma and aging. While teeth whitening can help, it is important to consult a dentist to make sure your discoloration is not a sign of a bigger issue.
We often are asked around the side effects and overall safety of teeth whitening options. While everyone’s mouth is different, teeth whitening treatments, when used as prescribed, are mostly safe. However, there are some side effects to be on the lookout for.
The most common side effect to teeth whitening treatments is tooth sensitivity. The sensitivity may lessen over time but there may be additional types of toothpastes and fluoride gels that can help to counteract the sensitivity.
The other common side effect is irritated gums. While you might feel this initially, the irritation should dissipate over time and is usually a short-term side effect.
Overall, teeth whitening is safe, but it is important to speak with your dentist to find the best teeth whitening option for you. Everyone is different and your dentist can help you find a healthy and safe way to brighten your smile and boost your confidence.