A beautiful, white smile can really make first impressions when you enter a room. However, many know that teeth can naturally dull from wear and tear, medical issues, and some habits like smoking, drinking, and eating certain foods. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with dingy and discolored teeth. Thanks to professional teeth whitening, you can get your glistening, white smile in a safe environment. Before making that decision through, here are four things you need to know about teeth whitening:

Teeth Whitening Is Safe

First and foremost, we need to make it clear that many professional teeth whitening treatments are safe and approved. Professional treatments typically have around 40% hydrogen peroxide, while over-the-counter products have up to 10% hydrogen peroxide. These types of peroxide compounds are regularly used in a variety of dental treatments and have been for years. However, the FDA doesn’t regulate teeth whitening products, and there has been some inconclusive evidence regarding the effects hydrogen products can have on each tooth. The American Dental Association puts a seal of approval on many dentist-distributed teeth whitening products.

It Is Not for Everyone

Professional whitening in a dentist’s office is the most effective method and one that produces the highest-quality results. Before whitening, most will perform a consultation to discuss your dental history, overall health, and oral health goals. This consultation is important to discuss any unaddressed dental issues, as many teeth and gum problems will need to be addressed before whitening can occur. In general, children younger than 16, those with orthodontic treatments, or patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding are discouraged from teeth whitening.

There Are Various Ways to Fix Tooth Discoloration

If you do any research on this process, you will find that there are a wide variety of products and claims in the way that they work. There are actually only two ways to whiten the teeth.

True Teeth Whitening Bleach

Despite claims of various over-the-counter products, only one chemical can cause an actual change in the color of the teeth. Hydrogen peroxide, and its close relative carbamide peroxide, penetrates enamel and oxidizes dark pigmented molecules within the hard tooth structure itself. By breaking down darkly colored molecules, it literally bleaches the underlying tooth color to a whiter shade. Because peroxide chemicals are the only true bleaching agents for now, you should avoid products claiming to be peroxide-free. They will not hurt you; they just will not give effective results.

Superficial Stain Removal

Without a peroxide chemical, the only way a product could deliver on any teeth whitening claims is through the removal of superficial stains. In general, most people continue to accumulate dark spots on the external surface of their teeth throughout their lifetimes. We can polish away these shallow stains in a few different ways.

Polishing away surface stains involves the use of very mild abrasive particles. The goal is to remove only stains and not enamel. Using a very fine abrasive material will smooth and polish without removing the underlying enamel.

Biggest Side Effect is Sensitivity

While a fairly low-risk procedure, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any side effects. The most commonly reported side effect is sensitivity, but other people report irritated gums or blistering. Talk to your dentist if you notice any of these occurrences after your treatment as they can help eliminate or minimize sensitivity.

Teeth Whitening Results Will Vary

Even though professional teeth whitening is highly effective, results can vary. This is due to the fact that there are many factors related to whitening. Some people have healthier tooth enamel, or stains that are easier to break through, so their teeth get whiter faster. Others may have built-up stains that take longer to remove. Speak with a dentist before starting a treatment for advice and recommendations on what will work best for you and your teeth.

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Whitening teeth is both simple and effective and can give you the brighter smile you’ve always wanted. If teeth whitening is something you’d like to explore, we recommend setting up a consultation with one of our endodontists today!