What to Know About At-Home Tooth Whitening

Posted on January 7, 2019 by:

It can seem like there’s no need to undergo professional teeth whitening if you can do it at home (it seems like there are an unbelievable amount of choices on the market!), but there are some things to know about whitening on your own time when it comes to both effectiveness and oral health. At-home whitening can be a great way to maintain your professional results under the guidance of your dentist, but here are some things to watch out for if you’ve decided to do it yourself.

You should pick the right product

Although it can be tempting to find the cheapest or most natural way to get to white teeth, some of these products can actually be detrimental to your oral health. Professional treatments usually use a form of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide within a certain percentage range.  Peroxides are bleaching agents that break up stains and discolored molecules on the teeth, can come in the form of strips (most over-the-counter products) or gels (most dental office products), and are generally safe. On the other hand, certain other over-the-counter products contain abrasive ingredients (like activated charcoal) that abrasively get rid of stains, but also get rid of your enamel in the process because they’re too harsh. You should always check with your dentist before you try any over-the-counter products, since many are not endorsed by the ADA or good for your teeth.

You can sometimes experience sensitivity

Unfortunately, tooth whitening can come with some discomfort afterwards—usually because of the strength of the product used, the accidental seepage of bleaching material onto the gum tissue, or the condition of your enamel prior to whitening; however, with professional in-office treatments, you dentist can take steps to protect your gums from the product used, recommend a strength of whitening solution specifically for you, and better prevent or manage any post-operative sensitivity.

You should avoid certain foods/drinks

Staining usually occurs from the regular consumption of certain foods/drinks that are dark or particularly pigmented. The most common of these are coffee, black tea, or red wine. Your dentist will recommend drinking these through a straw to protect your teeth while whitening, as well as rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth shortly after eating or drinking these beverages.  How frequently you’ll need to whiten your teeth depends on how frequently you consume dark food and drinks—the less the consumption, the fewer the treatments!

You should have good dental health

Teeth whitening works best on people that are in good health when it comes to their teeth, especially since certain whitening products can irritate certain dental conditions like receding gums or cavities. With professional treatments, your dentist can take steps to avoid this, so you should address your dental health with a professional before you reach for any whitening products.

You can overdo it

Teeth whitening works best at a professional strength 1-2 times per year, and your results can be touched-up at home in between these appointments.  Whether you decide to whiten in a dental office or at home, you should always do so under the supervision of your dentist.

Dr. Schultz can perform professional teeth whitening treatments and/or provide you with at-home instructions to maintain effective results. To schedule an appointment and discuss your options or concerns about whitening, call our office or fill out our online form.  We look forward to seeing you!