Teeth whitening is something that has become quite popular in the last few years. We see celebrities on TV with pearly white teeth, and it's natural to want the same. White teeth can make you look a lot younger and can bring out other positive features.
Does Teeth Whitening Work?
When done properly, teeth whitening can be safe and effective, and the positive effects can last for several years as long as you are careful about what you eat and drink. People who smoke, drink a lot of red wine, or drink a lot of coffee may find that their teeth get re-stained comparatively easily.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
Teeth whitening is carried out using a bleaching agent. Usually, this is a form of hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide will give off oxygen free radicals when it is applied, and these will break down the color that stains the teeth. There are a few different ways that the bleaching agent can be applied, including using a gel which is activated with an LED light or using a custom-fit mouth guard that has had the whitening gel applied to it.
If you go to the dentist, then it is likely that they will use one of these methods. These are the safest way to whiten your teeth, since the dentist will know exactly how strong to make the whitening agent, and the whitening agent can be applied for precisely controlled periods of time, only to the area that needs to be treated.
You can buy over-the-counter whitening agents, but these are not a good idea. Most whitening toothpaste that you can buy over the counter is completely ineffective. There are some whitening agents that you can import which will temporarily make your teeth look whiter, but they are not safe. Most of these whitening products will just dry out your teeth, and there is the risk of them burning your gums or lips in the process. Some are so strong that they can actually weaken the enamel, setting you up for a lifetime of problems with your teeth.
The only over the counter whitening products that are safe and moderately effective are whitening strips. These are a thin band that has been coated with a gel that contains a mild concentration of hydrogen peroxide. Usually, these products are no stronger than 6%, although even that concentration should be handled with care. The strips will mold to your teeth and are easy to use and remove.
If you have heavily stained teeth, however, then you should go to the dentist and have a proper treatment done there. After the treatment, get into the habit of brushing your teeth after meals or after drinking beverages that are likely to stain your teeth. If you are unable to brush your teeth after a meal, then use sugar-free chewing gum as a short-term option. This will help to prevent spices, wine or other substances from building up on your tooth enamel and staining it.