I love whitening my teeth. I started when I went to a dentist who had a promotion going that you would get a free teeth whitening kit as a new patient. My teeth weren’t terrible when I started, but they looked a little yellow to me. I got the whitening trays and the gel and used them pretty religiously. My teeth got whiter when I used the whitening trays, but I was afraid they would yellow again if I didn’t keep doing something. So when I had dentist visits, I would get more gel. I would also use some whitening strips from the drug store in between visits. I have done this for some time now. I’m out of gel again and am wondering if I should just do the in-office whitening treatment. My husband is worried that I’ll hurt my teeth doing much more whitening. Could this happen?
Dear Bright Whites,
For most people, a regular schedule of whitening each month is okay. This is especially true of people who regularly smoke or consume staining food or drinks. Not all tooth whitening is created equally, though.
Teeth whitening methods
The teeth whitening strips you use from the drug store are the weakest of the whitening methods you use. Because they aren’t on as long and the formula isn’t as strong, whitening strips aren’t as effective for brightening a smile.
Whitening trays and the gel you get from a dentist’s office are stronger. The nice thing about this method is that you can do it from home. When used regularly, these can help whiten your teeth.
The third method is the teeth whitening you mentioned that is done in the dentist’s office. This is done with a bleaching agent that is placed on all your teeth and a light is shined on them. This can take a couple of hours and is effective, but is more expensive.
Some people start to exhibit problems when they over-whiten their teeth. It can lead to sensitivity or translucent teeth. Oddly enough, it can also lead to more staining. Your teeth naturally have holes in the surface that are microscopic. These holes are normally closed. When you whiten your teeth, those holes open up. After the bleaching process, it can take time–from a few days to a few weeks–for them to close up completely again. Unfortunately, if you smoke or consume staining foods or drinks such as grape juice, berries, or coffee, the teeth will start to absorb those stains right after the whitening treatment.
Ideally you should talk to your dentist about the amount of whitening you are doing. Make sure he is aware of the frequency and duration of your treatments at home. He will help you know if a whitening treatment in the office is recommended or if he would advise against it.
You can also brighten your smile by making sure you have white fillings in your teeth, as well.
This post is sponsored by Dr. Ryan Perry of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.