Americans spend a total of about $1.4 billion on tooth whitening every year, but are they whitening safely? Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure your whitening is as safe as it could be:
Did you see to your dentist first?
Professional teeth whitening can be expensive, so its understandable to teeth whitening at home with over-the-counter products. Even so, it’s essential that you visit your dentist before heading to the store.
Your dentist can clean your teeth thoroughly and check for potential problems like cavities and swollen gums. Either condition might interfere with the safety of your whitening product, and your dentist may advise you to hold of until your mouth is healthier.
You can also ask your dentist which over-the-counter product will work best for you, and what effects you should expect from each one.
Did you check the bleaching agent?
Most over-the-counter teeth whitening products contain peroxides like carbamide peroxide, but the ingredient isn’t as important as it’s concentration. Peroxides come in concentrations of 10-20%, with cheap teeth whitening solutions often skewing toward the low end.
While a higher concentration is usually more effective, it’s better to start with a mid-range concentration to avoid damaging your teeth and irritating your gums. If you can tolerate a mid-range bleach but your teeth aren’t as white as you’d like them to be, choose a higher percentage of bleach.
Did you follow instructions?
Don’t leave strips on longer than recommended as a shortcut. This can irritate your gums and lead to more complications down the road. Ask your dentist if you’re not sure you’re using your product correctly, or if you’re still getting irritation with ordinary use.
Remember, artificial crowns often won’t whiten, so don’t heap on cheap teeth whitening products hoping to change that.
Are you whitening too much?
It can be easy to get addicted to whitening, especially since cheap teeth whitening products are everywhere. But remember, more isn’t necessarily better. After you complete the directions in your product, you can usually keep them white with once-a-month touch up sessions, which you can later drop to twice a year or less.
Remember, your biggest enemy is impatience. Give the product time to work and have realistic expectations and you should be fine!