Staining of the teeth can occur due to several reasons. Some stains may be superficial, while others may be due to genetic disorders or tooth decay.
There are several treatment options for brightening the color of your teeth. One of the most popular dental treatments is teeth whitening.
Tooth whitening is a chemical process of bleaching the teeth to make them lighter in the shade. The common ingredient used for this procedure is hydrogen peroxide.
The result of teeth whitening depends on the type of procedure and concentration of hydrogen peroxide used.
Usually, tooth whitening is done safely by dental professionals in the office. However, with the increasing demand, tools for teeth whitening are being made available for at-home use.
Some people prefer to use natural ways of whitening their teeth. Although this option might seem appropriate, they can cause lasting damage to the teeth in no time.
Successful results can only be achieved by following a proper protocol and consulting the dentist to know about the safest natural as well as home-based procedures.
Today’s article will highlight some of the common mistakes people make while performing tooth whitening at home.
Additionally, we will also discuss the ways you can prevent these mistakes and make an informed decision.
What is tooth whitening?
Tooth whitening is a clinical procedure which is done to lighten the color of the teeth and brighten the patient’s smile.
Tooth whitening is achieved by changing the intrinsic color of the tooth or by controlling and removing the formation of extrinsic stains on the surface of the teeth.
What are the types of tooth whitening methods?
Tooth whitening can broadly be categorized into two categories –
In-office tooth whitening
This type of tooth whitening is performed by a dental professional. The concentration of hydrogen peroxide used is much higher, around 15 – 45%, which makes teeth brighter faster.
The in-office procedure may require heat, light, or a combination of both to intensify and speed up the process. (2)
On average, a person can get from three to eight shades lighter teeth in a single visit of 30-60 minutes.
With all these benefits comes a considerable price. The cost of in-office tooth whitening may range from $500 to $1000.
At-home bleaching of teeth
There are several options available for at-home tooth whitening. Some of them are as follows –
- Tooth whitening strips and gel – the solution is applied directly using a brush or a thin strip. The process is to be repeated one to two times a day for at least 10-14 days to get the desired results. The results of tooth whitening last for about four to six months and cost around $10 – $55. (3)
- Tooth bleaching trays – this procedure uses a mouth guard or a dental tray filled with peroxide gel. The individual has to place the tray over the teeth and leave it for one to several hours a day for up to four weeks. The cost of this tooth whitening kit ranges from $150 – $600.
- Whitening toothpaste – whitening toothpaste is specially designed to brighten the smile. It consists of chemicals and polishing agents that help to scrub the stains off the tooth surface, bleach and clean the tooth at the same time. Whitening toothpaste brightens the teeth by only one shade and is inexpensive.
What are the conventional teeth whitening mistakes?
Some of the common teeth whitening mistakes are as follows –
Overuse of whitening strips
Overuse or prolonged use of whitening strips can have damaging effects on the surface of the teeth.
Leaving the whitening strip for longer than instructed will not help in brightening the teeth any further. Moreover, it increases the risk of tooth sensitivity. (4)
Ill-fitting whitening trays
Customized individual trays are the best and safest means of whitening teeth at home. Usually, the trays that are sold over-the-counter come only in one size.
This increases the risk of gel leakage, which can potentially damage and irritate the gums. (5)
Use of baking soda
Baking soda is a common home ingredient recommended by people to whiten the teeth at home.
However, the scrubbing and stain removal mechanism of baking soda is ineffective on older stains.
Additionally, the abrasiveness of baking soda can weaken the enamel and cause tooth sensitivity.
Whitening toothpaste is preferred over baking soda to have a lightening effect on the teeth.
Consumption of food-based acids
Most frequently recommended food-based acids for tooth whitening are lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.
In some cases, lemon juice is used along with baking soda to form a whitening paste. But unfortunately, acids like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar are the root cause for enamel erosion.
This increases the risk of tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, and cavity formation. It is best to skip using these products for cosmetic purposes.
Bleaching agents not designed for teeth
Always stay aware of the fact that any product which is not intended for teeth or is not instructed to be used in the mouth should be avoided.
For example, chlorine bleaching solution used in laundry and pools. These products can prove to be lethal and deadly.
What can you do to prevent teeth whitening mistakes?
Before deciding on the method of tooth whitening always follow the precautionary measures to stay aware about the best and worst products used for tooth whitening.
Follow the steps given below to stay safe and have successful results –
- Consult your dentist – the best way to get all the information about tooth whitening is to consult a dentist. A dentist will assess your mouth and list out all the significant problems that need to be corrected. Sometimes tooth discoloration occurs due to cavities or decay. In such cases, tooth whitening is not the necessary treatment. Therefore, understand what the problem is and how it can be treated.
- Choose natural means of tooth whitening – bleaching is not the only method of tooth whitening. Often, staining occurs as a result of poor oral hygiene. Eliminate this problem by maintaining a good oral healthcare routine that will remove the plaque and stains from the tooth surface. Consume tooth staining food or beverages in moderation. Instead, switch to fresh fruits and vegetables. Stop any oral habits like smoking or use of tobacco chewing products.
- Follow the instructions on the package – every tooth whitening kit comes with a set of instructions that are meant to be followed step-wise. Additionally, a list of aftercare instructions is also equally important to maintain the success of tooth whitening for a long time. If you are uncertain about the guidelines, consult a dentist or the manufacturer to become clear before using the product.
Take away message
Tooth whitening is one of the most popular dental treatments, which is improving the smile of millions of people worldwide.
Tooth whitening can be done in a dental office or at home with the help of a tooth whitening kit. In-office treatments are considered as the best and safest among all.
However, with the increase in the cost of this procedure, people prefer to buy home based tooth whitening kits.
While considering tooth whitening at home, it is essential to know the common mistakes and myths to prevent them from damaging the teeth.
Some of these mistakes include overuse of whitening strips, use of ill-fitting whitening trays, use of baking soda and lemon as natural tooth whitening agents.
It is always better to consult a dentist before selecting any method of tooth whitening. This will help you to make an informed decision and prevent unnecessary tooth damage.