One of the most common desires patients have is whiter teeth. When considering your options it is important to consult your dentist to make sure you have all the facts and understand how they may affect your teeth and mouth.
Many people think the coloring of teeth is due to plaque or dirt. But a variety of factors can affect the color of your teeth including food, drink, tobacco, age, injury, and medications. Understanding what is causing the discoloration is important to properly whiten your teeth.
Teeth whitening products use bleaches (either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) to break stains into smaller pieces, which make them harder to see and make your teeth brighter. These bleaches do not work on all teeth, so it is important to consult your dentist before any treatment. Whitening will not be effective on caps, veneers, crowns, fillings or if the color is caused by medications or injury.
Options for teeth whitening usually include whitening toothpastes, at-home bleaching, and in-office bleaching. Of course effectiveness, safety, and results vary greatly between products, so consult with your dentist if you are considering these choices.
If the bleach in a whitening product gets through the enamel of your teeth, it can irritate the nerves and cause tooth sensitivity. This sensitivity is usually temporary, but overuse of whiteners can cause lasting damage.