Teeth whitening kits are popular over-the-counter and in-office ways to fix the cosmetic issues of a discolored smile. If your less-than pearly white teeth are making you dissatisfied with your overall appearance, you may have considered investing in a teeth whitening treatment but are skeptical about over-the-counter kits.
Since not all teeth whitening treatments are the same, it’s a common concern for those who want effective results as safely as possible. When you’re putting a bleaching agent in your mouth, even though it’s the activating agent in these kits, it’s understandable to be cautious about the products you choose.
Before you settle on just any OTC teeth whitener, read over these facts about teeth whitening products and schedule an appointment with your dentist to see which treatments are best for your teeth.
The Basics of Teeth Bleaching Kits
Any time you are considering using a potentially harmful ingredient in your body, even for medicinal purposes, you should always research it first. When it comes to whitening kits, many of the brands you see on the counters in local department stores claim to be the best tooth whitener on the market, but they contain high levels of bleaching agent that can damage your enamel or gums.
As you research how teeth whitening kits work, you’ll understand why safety should be the primary factor in which treatment you choose.
In general, the process of whitening your teeth is consistent. There is an applicator in the kit you choose, and it’s usually something like a sticky strip or a tray that you place gel inside. Then you adhere the strip or tray to your teeth, leave it there for a specified time, and then remove it and rinse your mouth.
It’s not difficult and usually doesn’t take a lot of time, depending on the product. But while the methods work to get the bleaching agent into your enamel, not all of them work the same.
Why Caution is Key
There are safety measures that should be accounted for, like verifying that the seal on the box says that the American Dental Association approved the product as an effective, harmless way to whiten your teeth.
Even though the procedure is simple enough to be done at home, the consequences can be harmful. Teeth whitening products work in the same fashion. They expand the pores in the dentin of your teeth to allow the whitening agent to access it. When the agent soaks into the dentin, it lightens the color.
But if the whitening agent is too strong or isn’t used completely as directed, it can damage your teeth. You may experience sensitivity in your gums, or they may get irritated and inflamed. Since the dentin is made of protein, that layer can be damaged, causing a physical change in the texture of your teeth.
These adverse reactions to whitening products are common, so if you’re looking into having your teeth lightened, speak to your dentist first to see the benefits of a professional treatment versus an OTC product.
The Advantages to Professional Dental Whitening Treatments
Cosmetic dental whitening treatments have become commonplace in many dentists’ offices in the United States. If you want to ensure that your dental health isn’t compromised, but you still want whiter teeth, a professional dental whitening treatment is your safest and most effective option.
Over-the-counter kits usually require a minimum usage before you begin to notice a major difference. But after one professional dental treatment, you’ll probably see a change in the color of your smile. Before and after pictures are usually part of the process, so your dentist can monitor your shifting pearly whites as they adjust until your target smile is reached.
In-office therapy also gives your dentist the option of using a teeth whitening light to help the bleaching agent absorb faster. This professional-grade light increases the effectiveness of the gel treatment.
Once the light is activated after the gel is applied to your teeth, it helps the gel absorb into your dentin faster, reducing your time in the office. The increased absorption time gets you on your way back to your day with a whiter smile in limited time. It also limits the exposure your teeth get to bleaching or the whitening agents, and decreases the potential for damage.
Taking Care of Your Teeth After Whitening
Discolored teeth don’t happen right away. Your baby teeth and new permanents almost always come in a healthy shade of white, and over time they can change into yellow or brown-tinged hues.
This is typically a combination of your habits, unhealthy eating and drinking, and genetic conditions. Those same factors can take your new white teeth and cause them to discolor again if you are not careful.
To ensure you get the maximum longevity for your dazzling, whiter smile, follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions. Common expectations include directions such as:
- Brushing your teeth every morning and evening, using mouthwash, and flossing every day to make sure the hard to reach places are cleaned and to prevent plaque buildup.
- Following a whitening treatment, be careful what you eat. Your dentist will give you a recommended diet plan. Failure to follow these general rules for 48 hours after your treatment can mess up your teeth’s ability to retain the whitening agent. Bright and dark-colored food and drink should be avoided.
- Also avoiding poor oral hygiene habits like smoking and vaping. You don’t have to quit entirely, although that’s up to you and always a good idea for your health. But the first 48 hours after your treatment are crucial, and these habits will limit your whitening care effectiveness.
Schedule a Consultation Today
When you’re ready to experience life through the lens of a beautiful, white smile, call Brent C. Lin, DDS to schedule a consultation. Our professional experts can answer all your questions about at-home and in-office whitening procedures and help you decide which course of treatment is right for you!