Do you often drink tea and coffee? Are you an avid smoker? If you answer 'yes' to any of these questions, you are likely conscious of yellow teeth and how your smile may not be as perfect as you wish. But there is a solution to the problem and it comes in the form of teeth whitening.
There are various teeth whitening products and teeth whitening treatments that you can do either on your own or with the aid of your dental professional. Whitening has become very common as more and more people resort to it in search of that whiter smile.
But is teeth whitening safe? It is an important question to consider, given the popularity of whitening products and procedures. Before we delve deeper, you should learn how stains occur and how teeth whitening works.
How do stained teeth occur?
Teeth discolouration and stains occur for different reasons and there are different factors that are at play. Stains come in 3 categories:
- Extrinsic stains - these are stains that appear on the outer surface of the tooth, i.e. the enamel. This part of the tooth protects softer parts, but it is exposed to all of the foods and drinks, which can leave a coloured residue and leads to surface stains. Poor oral hygiene also contributes to these stains.
- Intrinsic stains - these are stains on the inner layer of the teeth. They appear because the stain particles often penetrate the enamel and build up within the tooth. Often times these stains are accompanied by other issues, such as tooth decay, gum irritation or tooth sensitivity.
- Stains that appear with age - most adults experience some teeth discolouration with age. That is because their teeth are more brittle and the dentin becomes exposed.
What are your teeth whitening options?
There are many options you can pick to whiten your teeth. There are three categories of whitening methods:
- Those dental professionals administer
- Those that dentists prescribe for use at home
- Over-the-counter products used without dental professional oversight
Which method or product you choose will largely depend on factors such as whether you have some form of dental trauma, your age, the type of discolouration you have, etc.
How to be safe about teeth whitening?
Is teeth whitening safe? Yes, it can be, as long as you are careful how you approach it. If you wish to have pearly whites and keep teeth whitening safe, you need to follow a few very important steps. We've written a post dedicated to explaining how teeth whitening works, if you're interested.
Always consult with your dentist first
Your dentist has a very important role in evaluating the health of your teeth and identifying issues - micro-sized holes on the tooth surface, sensitivity, gum disease, damage to tooth's nerves, etc. They will take all of that in mind before starting a whitening protocol to have your teeth whitened.
Be careful with home teeth whitening products
You should refrain from using teeth whitening products that contain more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. Products with higher concentrations can only be prescribed by a dental professional for a teeth whitening treatment. If you manage to still get such a product, bear in mind it doesn't make teeth whitening safe.
Follow product instructions
Whether you try a take-home whitening kit or a whitening toothpaste, you have to ensure you read and follow the instructions. That way you will know the exact usage of the whitening products, and the frequency of use. If you overuse or do not use teeth whitening kits correctly, you risk doing damage to your teeth.
In-office treatment vs home teeth whitening treatment
Among the many benefits of in-office whitening treatments is the fact that they are quick and performed by a trained professional. The expert will take the time to assess your teeth whitening needs and proceed with a product that is best suited for your case. If you have tooth sensitivity towards hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide or another bleaching agent, the dentist will recommend another approach.
In-office treatments are preferable because you can remove stains with a proven whitening procedure. You won't need to worry about the usage of the whitening options and how to achieve the best whitening effect. All of this you can leave in the hands of our professionals at the Bedok and Geylang clinic, whose job is to work on that brighter smile of yours by removing intrinsic and extrinsic stains from your teeth.
Teeth whitening at home is mostly done by using whitening toothpastes or other products are also an option. You can get whitening kits and whitening gels that are lower in concentration to try at home. Because of this, you may have to apply them more than once, in order to get the tooth-whitening effect you are after.
Is teeth whitening safe when performed at home? Because most whitening kits, whitening strips and other products contain carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, you have to be very careful in applying them. If you are not careful, you can have a bleaching agent come into contact with your gums, triggering an irritation.
What are some teeth whitening options you have?
There are several products you can use to get whiter teeth:
- Whitening strips - these are a popular option to use at home. They contain hydrogen peroxide and it will work as a whitening agent to do its job and give you teeth that are at least a few shades whiter. Carefully read the instructions on how long you keep the strip and how you place it on your teeth.
- Whitening toothpastes - this is perhaps the safest option. Any whitening toothpaste contains mild abrasives and other whitening ingredients that remove impurities that stain teeth.
- Whitening gels - they contain carbamide peroxide and you use them by swabbing the solution onto your teeth a few times a day. As long as you don't put gel on your gums, it is not a bad tooth-whitening method. If you experience any sensitivity when using the product, you should switch to other teeth whitening methods.
- Teeth whitening kit - usually comes with a desensitising gel that you apply to minimise sensitivity to the bleaching agents that are in the product. The most common bleaching agents are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, which you will likely find on the ingredients list of your kit.
- Natural teeth whitening options - some natural teeth whitening methods include baking soda, activated charcoal toothpaste, oil pulling with coconut oil and hydrogen peroxide.
You may be interested in reading about which is the best option for you - veneers or tooth whitening treatment.
Will teeth whitening work on false teeth?
Whitening procedures only work on natural teeth. You cannot expect good results on dental implants, veneers, crowns and fillings. Whitening treatments that use bleaching agents target the enamel and the stains that are on the teeth. Many of them will also work to prevent future stains.