Whitening: What Is It and Is It Harmful to My Teeth? - City of Oaks

Whitening: What Is It and Is It Harmful to My Teeth?

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The saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is based on the reality that your appearance really does matter. But it’s not how you look that causes people to create their first judgments. It’s how well you take care of your hygiene, including your smile.

Everyone knows that this is true on a basic level. So, when your smile is discolored or stained, it can make you self-conscious. With all the whitening options out there today, though, you don’t have to be!

It’s easy to be skeptical about a product that claims to dissolve your discolorations and stains fast. More importantly, though, you want to know if the teeth whitening processes are safe.

Professional teeth whitening at the dentists’ office are the safest and most effective way to get your smile back to its dazzling natural state. But many people try over-the-counter whitening kits first.

Before you step into the world of whitening, you need to understand exactly what it does to your teeth and gums. You’re putting chemicals in your mouth, and, while it’s safe if done correctly, this always has the potential to be harmful. 

Talk to your dentist about the pros and cons of the different whitening options available to you. At City of Oaks Dental, we offer a professional tooth whitening procedure that gives you results almost immediately. 

Still not sure if a teeth whitening is right for you? Keep reading for the answers to many of your questions!

The Basic Details on Teeth Whitening Kits

Once you start looking into OTC whitening kits, you’ll see that they are everywhere. You can buy them online or at your favorite shopping center. But when you look into a cheap kit, remember that you’re getting cheap ingredients. Putting chemicals in your mouth that may not be the highest quality can be a dangerous thing.

Most whitening products use a bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide. This chemical is safe within certain dosages, as cleared by the American Dental Association. You can use it at home with products certified by the ADA as safe. Dental offices have a professional-grade bleaching agent in their whitening products.

But unlike when you have a teeth bleaching at the dentist’s office, choosing an OTC kit means taking your oral health into your own hands. Make sure to look into the manufacturer’s reputation before buying a product. Always shop for teeth whitening kits with the ADA-approved seal on them. 

ADA-approval means that the bleaching agent the manufacturer uses in the product is within acceptable levels. These levels are determined by the ADA. However, these kits can still cause damage to your mouth, particularly when it comes to increased sensitivity in your teeth.

Tooth sensitivity is a common side effect in people who use whitening strips and OTC whitening products. When you have your teeth whitened professionally, this isn't as much of a problem. The expert dental staff knows how to prevent the actions that cause increased sensitivity.

How Whitening Treatments Work

Although there are a variety of types of bleaching products, the majority of them work in a similar way. The kit has an applicator that contains the gel. The applicator is usually a type of sticky strip or a tray that you pour the gel into.

If it’s a sticky strip, you apply it directly to your teeth and keep it in place for the amount of time in the instructions. If it’s a gel tray, you pour the required amount of gel into the holder and then place the tray on your teeth. It is kept in place for the time given in the instructions. In some cases, a light is also inserted into your mouth and held there to help the bleaching agent active faster.

Either way, each technique does the same thing. The tooth whitening gel is placed on your enamel and left there to lighten your teeth over time. But the longer the chemicals are on your teeth and gums, the more damage they can cause.

It’s important to pay attention to the ADA-recommended safety instructions that are included in your kit. There’s a reason for the time frame in the directions, so be sure to follow every step carefully!

Why Caution is Necessary

When you understand the way teeth whitening products work, you’ll see why it’s important to be cautious and follow expert recommendations.

The process is simple. When the whitening agent is applied to the enamel, it expands the pores in the dentin of the teeth. During the time the pores are widened, the whitening agent is able to enter into the dentin, which is the layer of coloring. The agent soaks into the dentin and slowly adjusts the shade of the teeth, lightening it to that whiter goal.

However, if the chemical agent used is too strong or is not used right, it could cause painful side effects. Common adverse reactions include increased sensitivity in the teeth and gums or irritated and swollen gums. These are usually short-term, but still uncomfortable.

A long-term side effect can occur when the protein in the layer of dentin is damaged. This occurs if you don’t follow instructions in your whitening kit or you whiten your teeth too frequently. It can also mean that the product you used has less-than-quality ingredients. Damaged protein in the dentin can cause the texture in your teeth to become rough.

How Do Dentists Whiten Teeth?

If you’re looking for a truly safe and effective technique to whiten your teeth, check with your dentist. Their professional whitening treatments are the best way to safely lighten your enamel to its ultimate level of whiteness.

In-office dental treatments are part of a routine appointment. They’re easy to schedule anytime in your day. You can go on about your normal schedule after your dental visit and whitening procedure.

Many people see an immediate improvement in their discoloration with the first professional whitening treatment. Because of the way dentists use professional products and techniques to boost the effectiveness of the whitener, it takes less time than a home kit to see results.

There’s no magic trick the dentists use. It’s the outcome of using professional-grade, high-quality products combined with skilled technicians trained in taking care of your teeth.

Dentists use a strong, but safe, bleaching agent to whiten your teeth. Before they apply it, though, your gums will be covered with a protectant to keep them safe from the gel. This prevents any possible irritation from occurring.

Once your gums are protected, the agent is applied to your teeth and allowed to widen the pores and get into your dentin. During that time, a teeth whitening light may be directed towards your teeth to increase the effectiveness of the bleaching agent.

The powerful light, when activated, helps the gel absorb faster into the porous dentin. The extra absorption benefits you in multiple ways:

  • You have less wait time with the bleaching agent on your teeth, which means a smaller chance of tooth or gum sensitivity
  • Your appointment doesn’t take as long because you don’t have to sit with the whitening agent, waiting for it to do its thing
  • Your smile becomes whiter faster

An OTC whitening kit may take weeks before you get your smile to where you want it. With a dental professional whitening treatment, you could have your dazzling white smile after the very first visit!

When Do Whitening Treatments Not Work?

As wonderful and safe as they can be, whitening treatments aren’t for everyone.

If you’re considering your options for a brighter smile, talk to your dentist first. There are some situations where even a professional treatment may not be effective.

Teeth that are yellowed or discolored from aging or food and beverages are prime candidates for whitening services. But there are other ways teeth can become discolored, and this change in your teeth’s enamel could be a sign of a more serious problem. If so, a harsh bleaching agent may make the issue even worse.

In some cases, yellowed teeth are the product of long-term use of medications, heredity, or tobacco use. They could also be discolored because of decay and infection. Your dentist will let you know if your teeth could benefit from a whitening treatment or if it would be ineffective at best and harmful at worst.

Get Your Whiter Smile Today!

Whether you choose the OTC kit or the professional dental office whitening procedure, the important thing is that you stay safe while you’re using the product. Follow all instructions in your OTC kit. 

Talk to your dentist about potential problems and side effects and pay attention to your teeth. If they start to become sensitive, or your gums are irritated, don’t repeat the application for a few days. If the sensitivity continues, you may need to switch to a product that’s not as harsh.

However, if you want whiter teeth safely with high-quality products, a professional whitening treatment is the way to go. The process is hygienic and more effective than an OTC kit. Your teeth are being taken care of by specialists, and you can get results much faster!

When you want a dazzling smile but also want to make sure your teeth stay healthy, turn to City of Oaks Dental to see what teeth whitening options are available to you!

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