A more beautiful smile can have an overwhelmingly positive and transformational effect on your self-image. I’ve seen it over and over again in my 30+ years of practicing dentistry. And, of all the ways to get a more beautiful smile, teeth whitening is the most popular. In fact, Americans spend nearly $2 billion annually to whiten their teeth! If you’re contemplating it, you need to know about the 4 things that can mess up teeth whitening.
Whether you plan to have your teeth whitened at a dental office or go it alone, your teeth and gums must be in healthy condition beforehand. You’re probably not going to get that sparkling smile you so desperately want if your mouth’s been neglected.
4 Things That Can Mess Up Teeth Whitening
Plaque is a sticky film that collects on your teeth and can really mess up teeth whitening. If you have your teeth whitened while they’re covered with plaque it’s like taking a shower with your clothes on – you’ll be cleaner, but you won’t be clean. Whitening your teeth before having the plaque removed can result in uneven color instead of the uniform pearly whites you’re looking for.
2. Inflamed Gums
Inflamed gums can also mess up teeth whitening because the process itself causes gum irritation – whether you do it at home or professionally at a dentist’s office. Whitening solution contains either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which is bleach and bleach is an irritant. If your gums are inflamed, the process will be much more uncomfortable during and after. And that can really mess up teeth whitening. If your gums are healthy, you will likely have minimal discomfort that lasts only a day or two. A word of caution. Too much of a good thing may be no good at all. Overusing tooth whitening products, either in quantity or frequency, can really do a number on your gums. Whitening is a process which has a cumulative effect – the best results come from a little bit at a time. For the best results – be patient!
3. Cavities or Broken/Leaking Fillings
If you’re walking around with cavities or broken/leaking fillings, the whitening process is going to be pretty horrible for you. All whitening solutions contain bleach which causes an extremely painful reaction when it comes into contact with deeply exposed tooth structure. And, if you have an exposed, or nearly exposed, dental nerve, the pain will be nothing less than excruciating.If you haven’t had a dental exam for a while, or suspect that you have a cavity (a recent toothache is a sure sign), please hold off on whitening until you are given the OK by your dentist.
4. Teeth That Have Bonding or Tooth-Colored Fillings
Teeth with bonding or tooth-colored fillings can really mess up tooth whitening, as well, because the materials will not change color along with your natural teeth. The result can be a multi-colored mouth and I’m sure that’s not what you have in mind! You may have bonding or tooth-colored fillings and not be aware of it. Whether you plan to have your teeth whitened by your dentist or do-it-yourself, make sure you ask to find out. If you do have bonding or tooth-colored fillings you may need to have them replaced after whitening so they match.
More Tips To Avoid Things That Mess-Up Teeth Whitening
Even if your gums and teeth are healthy and you keep up with your dental cleanings, you’re probably going to experience a bit of irritation from tooth whitening, so, several weeks before beginning the process, start using a desensitizing toothpaste such as Sensodyne or ProEnamel. And always use a soft toothbrush.
So go ahead get that sparkly white smile you’re dreaming of, but please contact your dentist first.
Clean and white…it’s a beautiful thing!
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Michael Sinkin is a general and cosmetic dentist in New York City. He loves his job and is known throughout the city for the wonderful care he gives his patients and his wicked sense of humor. To contact Dr. Sinkin, link here.