Can I whiten my teeth at home?
Yes. You can whiten your teeth at home with several over-the-counter products that are easy to find. Toothpaste helps remove stains from your teeth, but there are some brands of whitening toothpaste you can buy that provide heightened stain removal. They don’t contain bleach, but rather carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that lightens color deep in the tooth, usually up to one shade.
You can also buy whitening gels or strips over-the-counter. They’re normally peroxide-based and are applied directly onto your teeth. Results show within a few days. Follow the instructions carefully, as they vary based on the strength of the peroxide.
Whitening rinses, like mouthwashes, freshen breath, help get rid of plaque, and prevent gum disease. They also contain hydrogen peroxide, which helps with teeth whitening. Because rinses aren’t in contact with your teeth as long as strips or gels, they don't have as much of a whitening effect.
Why should I see a professional for teeth whitening?
Although you can whiten your teeth at home, there are several benefits to seeing a professional like Dr. Urquiaga for teeth whitening procedures, including:
- Stronger bleach. Professional in-office whitening procedures contain higher concentrations of bleaching gels. Although safe, some patients experience a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity and mild irritation to the soft tissue.
- Faster and better results. Since the concentration of bleaching gel in professional procedures is higher, results appear immediately. Over-the-counter products need to be applied over a 2-4 week period. In-office whitening procedures take about an hour and lighten 3-8 shades.
- Supervision from a dental professional. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a consultation before undergoing any whitening treatment to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy enough.
Is teeth whitening safe?
The dentistry community agrees that the active bleaching ingredient in whitening products, carbamide peroxide (which yields hydrogen peroxide) is safe and effective. The substance has a mild effect on gums, teeth, and dental restorations like crowns and fillings. That’s why it’s important to come in for a thorough dental exam with Dr. Urquiaga before starting a whitening treatment.