Do over-the-counter teeth whitening treatments work? Indeed they can and often do. Are the results long-lasting? Not always. And there are many negative side effects that can have you running to your dentist anyway for treatment, repair, or pain management. If you’re aching for a whiter smile, it’s time to consider all your options, and understand the risks of attempting to do it yourself.
It seems so simple – go to the drugstore, pick up a box of whitening strips or whitening trays, and get to work on that gleaming Hollywood smile at home. But the one-size-fits-all whitening trays are guaranteed to be sloppy and not at all a perfect fit for your teeth. One of the biggest complaints dentists receive is from people who have gone overboard on the whitening and end up in a great deal of pain and with major gum irritation from too much bleaching gel.
OTC whitening treatments lend themselves to continuous use, which can lead to overbleaching and some serious pain, as well as uneven whitening. And if you have gone to your dentist for whitening treatment but you can’t seem to get enough whiteness, combining prescription-strength bleach with an OTC option increases the risks of sensitivity or results in translucent teeth or a bluish-hued enamel – and that tint can be permanent.
In some cases, a person’s zealousness about teeth whitening can cause them a great deal of internal pain. If the chemical used to whiten the teeth finds its way into a cavity or cracked tooth, painful internal damage can occur requiring deeper treatment by your dentist.
Once you get gleaming, white, sparkling teeth, you never want the look to fade away. But once you stop bleaching your teeth your old shade will come creeping back in. So, people whiten again and again, far more often than is recommended by your dentist or even on the boxed whitening treatments. Pursuing blindingly white teeth can actually become an obsession for some people whose teeth are never “white enough.”
See Your Dentist First
One of the most important reasons to see your dentist before attempting any OTC teeth whitening is to make sure your mouth is healthy. Just like any other cosmetic dentistry treatment, a good foundation is what will make for the best results. Treating problems before whitening is the safest and smartest route to take and it will minimize the risks of negative side effects if you use the OTC whitening as instructed.
Consider Professional Tooth Whitening
Professional tooth whitening is customized to each patient. If the patient goes home with molded bleaching trays and bleaching gel to administer on their own, the materials have been adjusted to fit the patient’s mouth and they have a plan of action to get the degree of whitening they desire over the course of a few weeks. Customized mouth guards help make sure that the bleach stays in contact with the teeth for maximum whitening while minimizing any risks of the potentially irritating bleach dropping onto the soft tissues of the mouth. For patients that experience sensitivity to whitening bleach, your dentist can prescribe a lower concentration of the bleach or provide a desensitizing gel for use right before or after bleaching to minimize discomfort.
When the teeth whitening procedure is done in-office, every precaution is taken, including a protective gel applied to the gums and the use of a retractor, shield, or dental dam to pull back the lips and protect the gums. Plus, you can get your teeth whitened in just an hour.
Smile Makeover Options
Talk to your dentist about the realities of whitening kits and the kind of results you can expect based on the condition of your teeth and your age. In some cases, there’s only so white your teeth can get, no matter how much bleaching you attempt. Maybe that means your smile makeover isn’t meant to happen via tooth whitening. A more permanent and reliable course of treatment for you might be porcelain veneers or Cerinate Lumineers. Contact Philadelphia Dentistry to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Ken Cirka and discover the smile makeover treatment that will get you the white smile you want.