Whitening

If your teeth are discolored, tooth whitening may help. “Whitening” is any process that can make teeth look whiter. It may be safely done at home or in a dental office. It is best to talk to your dentist before whitening your teeth.

 

Options for whitening your teeth

 

Tooth-whitening options range from gentle surface whiteners to stronger ones that can also remove deeper stains.

 

In-office whitening is done in the dental office. In-office whiteners are much stronger than whitening toothpastes and home-use whiteners because they have more peroxide. They can change the color of your teeth faster than the other methods.

 

In-office whitening is usually done in about one hour. To help protect your mouth from the peroxide, your gum tissues will be covered with either a thin sheet of rubber or a protective gel. A light or laser may be used in addition to the peroxide.

 

Side Effects

 

Whitening treatment may cause your teeth to be sensitive to very hot or cold temperatures. Whitening may also irritate your gums for a short time. If the side effects do not go away after a few days, see your dentist.

 

To avoid harming your teeth and gums, always follow the product directions and all instructions from your dentist. If your teeth become very sensitive or if you get sores in your mouth, stop using the products and call your dentist.

 

There is such a thing as too much whitening! Do not use whitening products for longer than listed in the product directions or by your dentist. Too much whitening can make your teeth and gums hurt badly. It can even harm your tooth enamel.

 

Tooth whitening is not a good choice for all people. If your gums have pulled away from the teeth in some places, whitening may irritate these areas. If you have tooth decay, cavities or gum disease, your dentist may recommend that these be treated before whitening. Also, it is important to be aware that the color of fillings, crowns, and some stains cannot be changed by tooth whitening.

 

Talk to your dentist about teeth whitening before you begin. He or she will do an oral exam to find out if it’s right for you.

 

How to keep your teeth white

If you have whitened your teeth recently, they may stain more easily. To keep your teeth white for as long as possible, avoid tobacco products and stain-causing food and drinks (like coffee, tea, and red wine) for several days after whitening. Keep in mind that teeth usually return to their original shade over time. But if you can steer clear of tobacco and large amounts of stain-causing food and drinks, your teeth may stay bright for several years.

Content provided by the American Dental Association.