Your smile is one of the first things someone may notice about you. So, it’s no surprise that when you smile, you want to show off healthy-looking teeth.
That’s why you might be wondering if teeth whitening techniques can really help get rid of stains and discoloration. But are at-home teeth whitening products safe? Can They Harm Your Teeth? Can teeth whitening cause tooth sensitivity? And instead of using at-home teeth whitening products, should you consider paying for professional teeth whitening?
Here, we provide an overview of some common home products and professional teeth whitening procedures. When you understand why your teeth are looking dull, how the teeth whitening process works and the potential disadvantages of teeth whitening options, you can go about choosing the best teeth whitening option for you. Will be ready.
how teeth lose their whiteness
There can be many reasons for tooth decay. Some causes include drug side effects, genetics, dental injuries and trauma, and medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. But most tooth discoloration is caused by prolonged exposure to staining agents such as coffee, tea, soda, and tobacco.
Also, as we age, the protective enamel on the outer surface of our teeth wears down. When the enamel wears away, the teeth become thinner. This makes teeth more translucent, which can make them appear more gray.
Also, with aging, the dentin of the teeth also starts to grow. Dentin is a hard tissue beneath the enamel of the tooth. When it expands, the pulp tissue in the center of each tooth contracts. This process increases the opacity of the teeth, making them appear more yellow.
how to whiten your teeth at home
There are many home teeth whitening products on the market. Some are quite simple, like toothpaste containing ingredients that are specifically meant to whiten teeth. Others are more advanced, using tools such as trays, strips, and toothed “paint” brushes.
Whitening toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) is a simple, cost-effective way to whiten teeth. Available at almost any drug or grocery store, they can be a good first step when teeth could use a brightening boost. But before you buy, it’s important to understand how they work.
How does whitening toothpaste work to whiten teeth?
Whitening toothpastes do not offer “in-depth” tooth whitening. Instead, some contain abrasives that help break down surface stains and polish tooth surfaces to restore whiteness.
Some whitening toothpastes may also contain a bleaching agent. Like old fashioned laundry detergents that used “bling” dyes to help white clothes appear Whitening, these toothpastes help reduce the appearance of yellow teeth.
However, with only whitening toothpaste, you usually won’t see a dramatic change in the whiteness of your teeth. Also, using them as your regular toothpaste in the long run might not be a good idea – but we’ll talk about that later.
over-the-counter teeth whitening strips, paint-on gels, and gel trays
Whitening strips, paint-on gels and gel trays (used to apply gel to teeth with a crescent-shaped tray that allows the gel to surround each tooth) are some of the more advanced at-home teeth-whitening products.
How do over-the-counter teeth whitening strips and gels help whiten teeth?
Teeth whitening strips and gels have the potential to yield better results in a faster time frame than whitening toothpastes. This is because the strips and gels are applied to your teeth for a longer period of time, providing a more concentrated whitening process – what some people also refer to as the “bleaching process”.
And what is all this bleaching doing as the strip or gel works to whiten your teeth? The main ingredient that is common in almost all over-the-counter teeth whitening strips and gels is hydrogen peroxide. (It is also present in some toothpastes.)
Hydrogen peroxide does a double duty when whitening your teeth. One of its two roles is to act as an oxidizing agent that allows it to diffuse into and through the spaces in the enamel, allowing bleaching to occur beneath the surface.
Once inside the tooth, hydrogen peroxide naturally releases oxygen, which oxidizes the coloring compounds in the teeth to produce the whitening effect. However, it is important to know that this procedure can cause some negative side effects, which we will talk about below.
Natural Teeth-Whitening Methods at Home
There are many natural ways to whiten teeth. But it’s important to know that some of these methods are not supported by scientific research.
baking soda to whiten teeth
Baking soda is a common household product that may actually pack some teeth-whitening power, according to the ADA., It is a mild abrasive that can help remove stains from the surface of your teeth.
An easy way to try baking soda is to buy a toothpaste that contains baking soda as a whitening agent. You can mix a scoop straight from the box with a little water to make your own paste and brush with it.
However, brushing with a mixture of baking soda and water should not be done daily – only once a week. It is also strongly recommended that you do not keep it on your teeth for more than 2 minutes and that you rinse your mouth thoroughly after use. This can help reduce the risk of damaging your tooth enamel or gum irritation.
eating more fruits and vegetables
Foods that are believed to have teeth-whitening properties mainly include fruits such as apples, strawberries, pineapple and watermelon, as well as cruciferous vegetables such as celery and carrots – which can be used to whiten teeth after eating. It is said to cleanse and stimulate salivation.
While there may not be scientific evidence to support this, dentists would always encourage you to eat more fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet, so it may be beneficial to try them.
Some say that vinegar can help whiten teeth, but there is little evidence to support this. And in fact, the acids in vinegar can even be harmful.
“Natural” Teeth Whitening Techniques Not Recommended
Dentists do not recommend using hydrogen peroxide straight from the bottle to whiten teeth. This is because it is hard to control the concentration level, and you may end up damaging your teeth or burning your gums.
Same goes for vinegar. There is no significant evidence that vinegar — while a natural cleaning agent — can actually clean and whiten your teeth. But we do know that if vinegar is used as a whitener, it can harm your teeth.
Our teeth are tough, but they are not indestructible. So before starting an at-home teeth whitening procedure, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist about what they might recommend.
Some of the risks of at-home teeth whitening products and methods may include:
teeth whitening can cause tooth sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is very common in many teeth whitening procedures, including those involving hydrogen peroxide (such as over-the-counter gels and strips) and acidic foods such as pineapple and strawberries.
The good news is that tooth sensitivity is usually temporary. If your teeth become sensitive during teeth whitening—either to a whitening product, to certain foods, or to hot or cold temperatures—a reliable solution is to whiten your teeth. Take a break from doing.
If not used properly, teeth whitening products can wear down or damage gums.
Gingivitis and discomfort can be a common concern for people who are considering whitening their teeth. Typically, gum injuries from teeth whitening occur when there is significant contact between the gums and hydrogen peroxide-based whiteners such as gels and strips.
Depending on the degree of inflammation, it is best to discontinue use of the product altogether, delay use, or adjust how you are using the product to minimize seepage from the product onto the gums.
Long-term use of abrasive teeth whitening products can damage tooth enamel
Any teeth whitening method that uses an abrasive—namely, whitening toothpaste—has the potential to damage enamel. This is called tooth wear.
Because abrasives polish the surface of teeth, they naturally whiten teeth by removing stains and other discoloring substances. But removing or reducing surface stains can only whiten teeth so much. So at some point, long-term use of abrasive teeth whitening methods (such as tube after tube of whitening toothpaste) may not only remove stains, but wear down your enamel.
Professional teeth-whitening options
Before starting any at-home teeth whitening procedure, we recommend that you speak with your dentist to see what they can recommend for your specific goals. But if you’re concerned about the safety of over-the-counter methods, or you’ve tried a few and didn’t get the results you expected, professional teeth whitening may be an option.
The first step to teeth whitening with the help of a dentist is to keep up with your regular dental checkups and cleanings. For most people, it is recommended every 6 months.
When it comes to professional teeth whitening methods, there are generally two options:
- Custom trays for at-home whitening, where an impression of your teeth is taken to create a tray that will fit perfectly in your mouth
- in-office whitening, where you have to visit your dentist for the whitening treatment
In both cases, dentists are able to use a specially formulated concentration of the whitening agent – either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, depending on the technique.
For whitening specifically with hydrogen peroxide, a dentist can control the exact length of time your teeth are exposed to the chemical, as well as the amount used. They may also use professional methods to prevent chemical/gum contact and inflammation.
Dentists may also combine bleaching of your teeth with professional tooth polishing. The result is teeth that are usually whiter than with an over-the-counter product.
Can you whiten your teeth if you’ve had dental work done?
If you have had any dental restoration work such as cavity fillings, crowns, bridges or veneers, it is important to know that teeth bleaching products will not whiten those materials.
This doesn’t mean that teeth whitening isn’t an option, but it isn’t as straightforward. Therefore, it is best to talk to your dentist about your options.
Learn more about safe teeth whitening by talking to a dentist
Again, before starting an at-home teeth whitening routine, it may be a good idea to talk to your dentist. This is a topic they are asked about all the time, and they can help you decide which at-home options may be best for your goals, and when professional whitening might be a better option. Could