You may not know what’s in store with store-bought whitening products.
Walk down the aisle where the oral care products are kept in a large drugstore. Near the toothpastes, mouthwashes, and floss, you’ll see a staggering array of over-the-counter products that promise a dazzling smile and whiter teeth. Some of them work well.
But what you won’t see in that aisle is the dentist.
When choosing an product over-the-counter to whiten your teeth, you don’t get your dentist’s education, training, and experience. You don’t get his or her judgment.
Although you’ll save money when you choose over-the-counter-whitening products instead of the dentist’s methods, the results may not be everything you expected.
Even if you want to try to whiten your teeth at home, Indian Dental Association experts recommend that you see your dentist first. Why? Because you want to rule out dental problems such as periodontal (gum) disease before you try to find the perfect over-the-counter tooth whitener. Whitening your teeth won’t fix those problems and can even aggravate them.
Also, many people don’t realize that previous restorations in their mouth won’t whiten along with their natural teeth. These include crowns and fillings. Tooth whiteners do not work as well on antibiotic-stained teeth either. And they do not correct all discoloration. Yellow and brown teeth respond better to bleaching than gray teeth.
Another advantage of scheduling a visit with your dentist before you decide to whiten your teeth is that the dentist can explain all your options and tell you the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Perhaps you will decide to start with professional whitening and then use over-the-counter products between visits. If you elect to whiten your teeth by yourself, your dentist can recommend the best product for you. The dentist can also explain what he or she is able to do for you.
Over-the-counter products are not custom-fit. A dentist can make custom trays that fit perfectly in your mouth. You can use the trays at home. He or she can usually provide stronger bleaching agents than you would get in an over-the-counter tooth whitener, too. The dentist can also offer you an in-office tooth-whitening treatment that can be done in a single office visit, using the most powerful bleaching solution. This takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
Tooth whitening can cause sensitivity in the teeth and gums in some people. If you have this side effect, whether the whitening was done by the dentist or by yourself, call your dentist.