Teeth whitening: Do’s and don’ts of brightening your smile

When it comes to whitening teeth, the tips, products, and services that claim to give you a brighter smile can be overwhelming. Before trying the latest craze, it’s important to understand the do’s and don’ts of teeth whitening.

What causes teeth to change color

Before starting a new teeth whitening routine, it’s a good idea to see what you may be able to change at home to brighten your smile. Small lifestyle changes may have a big impact on the whiteness of your teeth.

Some of the most common factors that play into teeth losing their shine include

  • Dark foods and drinks – Coffee, wines, and even soy sauce can cause staining of your tooth enamel.
  • Tobacco – Tobacco has can stain the hard material of teeth. Not only can tobacco ruin a bright smile, it can also lead to oral cancer  and gum disease. (Click here for help quitting today.)
  • Medications – Various medications have different impacts on the mouth, and some may result in tooth discoloration.
  • Aging – It should come as no surprise that your teeth begin to lose their luster as you get older. Your protective enamel coating may get thinner, exposing more of the yellow dentin underneath.
  • Trauma – Sometimes we experience unexpected injuries to our mouth which can cause changes to the color of our teeth. It’s critical to take steps protect yourself against dental injuries when possible and contact a dentist if you need immediate assistance.

The do’s and don’ts of teeth whitening

Now that you know some of the factors that can result in teeth losing their shine, here are a few teeth whitening do’s and don’ts:

Do’s of teeth whitening

  • Talk to your dentist before starting any teeth whitening treatments. It’s important for them to know the state of your oral health before you set out to make cosmetic changes.
  • Consult with your oral health provider about in-house options such as chairside bleaching, which is done during an appointment, or at-home options using custom bleaching trays.
  • Research the best products for your goals. It should come as no surprise that some teeth whitening items won’t get the job done and others can even harm your oral health. When in doubt, ask your dentist for advice.
  • Know your benefits and coverage ahead of time. Many cosmetic procedures aren’t covered and can’t be paid for with options like Flexible Spending Accounts.
  • Maintain your regular oral health routine. Remember to brush for two minutes twice a day and make sure you’re flossing properly.
  • Visit your dentist regularly so they can make sure your teeth and mouth are healthy.

Don’ts of teeth whitening

  • Don’t start any teeth whitening treatments without consulting your dentist.
  • If you’re pregnant or nursing, teeth whitening treatments shouldn’t be performed.
  • Looking for a cheaper at-home alternative to bleach trays? Don’t just pick something off the shelf. Many products are sold online and in grocery stores, but that doesn’t mean that these over-the-counter products are safe or effective. Look for items approved by the American Dental Association here first.
  • Don’t assume teeth whitening will work evenly on all your teeth. For example, whitening doesn’t work on caps, veneers, crowns, or fillings. Teeth whitening also may not work if your teeth are excessively discolored or have suffered trauma.
  • Don’t forget that teeth whitening can lead to or even heighten tooth sensitivity. If this happens to you, make sure to discuss with your dentist ways to balance or remedy your sensitivity.
  • Don’t try DIY teeth whitening! These social media trends can be dangerous to your oral health.

Teeth whitening can be effective when done correctly

There are various factors to consider when it comes to teeth whitening, including consulting with your dental team to make sure any treatment won’t harm your oral health.

The best way to keep your smile bright is with a good oral health care routine. Maintaining a healthy mouth requires consistent care with brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.