Teeth whitening is a popular dental treatment that is readily available; it is often obtained through over-the-counter products, by prescription, or in-office treatment. Using prescribed or over-the-counter products for whitening is a fairly safe procedure; however, everyone should pay a visit to the dentist before trying any product. A dental visit will ensure you have healthy gums and teeth before bleaching.
Severe side effects are rare with any bleaching technique; nevertheless, it’s very important to know how to use any whitening product you buy. Not following instructions can cause short-lived side effects such as sensitivity or gum irritation. Some common mistakes patients make are that they leave a product on longer than instructed in the hopes that it will enhance their results, this misconception can actually increase sensitivity. Another common mistake is drinking soda, coffee, or even wine after their whitening treatment. These highly acidic drinks can cause further sensitivity and make room for complications. To help with sensitivity, I recommend using fluoride toothpaste after bleaching which allows teeth to strengthen their enamel.
As a dentist, it’s important for me to know what products I can trust and recommend to my patients, so I make sure to know what the products contain. At-home and over the counter whitening kits normally have carbamide peroxide because it causes less gum irritation than hydrogen peroxide, commonly used for in-office treatment. Carbamide peroxide takes longer to whiten because it takes time for the carbamide to react and become hydrogen peroxide (whitening chemical), allowing it to be safe for at home use. In-office whitening typically uses a heavy concentration of hydrogen peroxide and is shown to be more effective.
Apart from the pros and cons of whitening today, it is crucial to know that whitening does not affect everyone the same way. Our age and habits, such as smoking, drinking, and the foods we eat, dictate how well the whitening will work. Although fairly safe, it is best to get a dental check up done to get advice from your dentist for best results.
Dr. Krupa Patel, DDS, earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from Creighton University School of Dentistry and has recently opened her first clinic in Richmond, TX, Southern Charm Dental.