Teeth whitening products are becoming more popular every day, and they’re often marketed as the quickest and least invasive method of smile enhancement. However, you need to consider the potential complications and damage that you may be causing to your teeth, before deciding whether you really need to whiten them.
What Are the Main Causes of Tooth Discoloration?
Teeth can get discolored or stained for a wide range of reasons, including diet, dental hygiene, medication and even aging. Even if you take good care of your teeth, they will start changing color at some point in your life.
There are two types of tooth discoloration:
- Intrinsic Stains – These form on tooth interiors, due to trauma, exposure to minerals or excessive fluoride, ageing, etc. They can sometimes be improved with supervised teeth whitening treatments, but may require veneers or other cosmetic dentistry solutions.
- Extrinsic Stains – These form on tooth surfaces, due to wear and tear, exposure to dark foods and beverages, tobacco, etc. They usually improve with regular brushing and professional dental cleaning, and become worse if you neglect your oral hygiene.
Can Over-the-Counter Whitening Products Help?
Over-the-counter whitening products only go so far in removing stains from your teeth. Most whitening toothpaste contain tiny abrasives that gently scrub the surface of your teeth. These can reduce the formation of external stains to some degree.
Bleaching products such as strips, gels and rinses, on the other hand, generally contain hydrogen peroxide. Most dentists don’t recommend at-home bleaching, because there’s a high risk of tooth sensitivity, enamel damage and gum irritation, especially if you don’t do it exactly right.
Is Professional Tooth Whitening the Right Answer?
You can get in-office bleaching performed by a dentist, but as with any other bleaching product, the complications may not be worth the trouble or expense. Don’t go in expecting miracles either!
Teeth whitening procedures will not leave you with pearly white teeth, but only make the surface of your teeth one or two shades lighter. The results are different for each person since some stains can be more easily removed than others. The procedure can also make your teeth more porous and sensitive, especially if you do it too often.
You also need to consider how whitening will work if you have fillings, crowns or other restorations, since these may not be affected the same way as your natural tooth.
Are There Any Other Solutions?
Professional teeth cleaning performed by a dentist is often all it takes to remove external or extrinsic stains. In addition, it can also remove built-up tartar, a form of hardened plaque, which toothbrushing cannot. It’s a good idea to get dental cleanings every 6 months, for better oral health and a brighter smile.
Ask your dentist about veneers or dental bonding if you’re really concerned about the way your teeth look. These cosmetic dentistry solutions offer better results over the long term, without the complications that bleaching may cause to your teeth. If you feel you must get teeth whitened, save it for right before a special occasion such as a wedding.