Should I be whitening my teeth?
Not everyone’s teeth are suitable for whitening. If your teeth and gums are not in a healthy condition before you whiten, the procedure may cause more damage. Even if there is nothing wrong with your teeth there may be other reasons why whitening won’t work.
How can I find out if my teeth are suitable for whitening?
The safest way to work out if your teeth are suitable for whitening is to see your dentist first. Dentists are the only people trained and qualified to make an accurate assessment of your teeth and gums.
What should a proper assessment include?
Your dentist will check for things like enamel thickness, receding gums, existing sensitivity, existing tooth decay, existing restorations (e.g. fillings, crowns and veneers), any other oral diseases or conditions. He will also assess the cause of discolouration, (e.g. diet, ageing etc.) and whether it is on the surface or inside the teeth. Only a qualified dentist is able to carry out these checks and then recommend a suitable whitening treatment.
What can go wrong?
For many people teeth whitening poses no serious risk if done correctly. However, if you choose the wrong treatment for your teeth or that treatment is applied incorrectly (e.g. whitening products are often used too frequently or applied for too long a time) then some damage can occur.
You can read more about this here but the main problems and side-effects can be:
- Reduction in the hardness and strength of enamel
- Damaged and inflamed gums
- Severe tooth sensitivity
- Irritation and possibly bleeding in the oesophagus and stomach if some of the bleaching agent is ingested
- If you have crowns, veneers or fillings these will not change colour at all after bleaching so you could end up with multicoloured teeth
- On the product side, some whitening treatments are very highly concentrated and are well over the officially recommended level of 6% for the active whitening ingredient. Find out what’s in the product you want to use as they can range from 3% to 35%!
What results can I expect?
Depending on the cause of the discolouration results can range from impressive to disappointing so it’s important to understand what can reasonably be achieved before you go ahead with any whitening procedure. The reality is that most people will achieve a one or two shade change but many will see no change at all. What works for one person will not work for another. Again, your dentist will be able to advise you.
Teeth Whitening Checklist
If you’re keen to improve the whiteness of your teeth, go through these steps so you can be sure you have chosen the right treatment. It could save you from unnecessary pain and possibly irreparable damage to your mouth.
- Have you tried other ways to whiten your teeth without using a chemical treatment, like having a professional scale and clean by your dentist and maintaining good oral hygiene habits?
- Have you consulted your dentist and had your teeth assessed for suitability to be whitened?
- Has your dentist recommended a course of action or specific treatment?
- Do you understand exactly how to use a treatment you will be applying at home?
- Are you fully aware of the potential side effects of whitening?
- Are you fully aware of the kind of results you can expect?
Please ensure you have satisfactory answers to all these questions before you undertake any teeth whitening procedure.