You may have noticed your teeth yellowing as you’ve aged, and that’s normal. Whether it be from inadequate brushing habits, eating colored or acidic foods, or diseases and medications, yellowing teeth is a dental problem that happens to just about everyone.
However, yellowing teeth can have a real impact on your smile and self-image. It may have caused you to seek out some at-home whitening treatment options you’ve heard about — but before you try them, you’ve got a few questions. Are they effective? Are they safe?
Here’s a dentist’s opinion on at-home whitening treatments’ efficacy, safety, and value:
What Is At-Home Whitening Treatment?
At-home whitening treatments are usually sold over the counter at grocery and drug stores. They come in various application methods, from toothpastes to rinses to strips, but they all contain a mild (10%) peroxide solution that has whitening properties. They’re a popular choice because they’re relatively inexpensive, ranging from $5-50 depending on the type of treatment.
Is At-Home Whitening Treatment Effective?
Short answer? Kind of.
First of all, it’s important to remember that no matter the whitening treatment, you can only make your teeth as white as your natural tooth color. Your natural tooth color is determined by the thickness of your enamel, as well as how yellow the dentine is underneath it.
That being said, some at-home whitening treatments are better than others. For example, whitening toothpastes are pretty abrasive and can damage your enamel, so they can actually cause more staining.
Whitening strips, on the other hand, are the most effective at-home treatment. They can remove the most staining from food, coffee, or wine on your enamel. Unfortunately, they aren’t usually strong enough to remove interior stains. That means their longevity — and your results — are typically limited to just a couple of weeks.
In general, at-home whitening treatments are a cost-friendly option and an okay place to start. But they’ll probably require frequent upkeep if you want to maintain a bright white smile.
Is At-Home Whitening Treatment Safe?
At-home whitening treatments are generally safe to use. However, you may experience a few adverse effects while using them.
First, they can make your teeth more sensitive during the treatment period, so it’s best to avoid hot, cold, and acidic foods and beverages during that time. This sensitivity usually goes away after the treatment has finished.
Second, they can cause gingival irritation, which is irritation or burning in your gums. In cases where this happens, it’s usually minor and will heal in just a few days.
Which Is Better: At-Home or In-Office Whitening Treatments?
Although at-home whitening treatments can be more cost-friendly and convenient, we recommend getting your whitening treatment done in a dental office. Most dentists offer two types of treatments: at-home whitening trays and Zoom whitening (whitening gel and LED light procedure).
When you get an in-office whitening treatment, everything is supervised and catered to your needs. Your dentist will complete an oral health screening before any treatment to ensure you won’t have any side effects to the treatment. Then, they can also control how much peroxide solution goes into your treatments in order to provide you with long-lasting whiteness without painful sensitivities.
A few more benefits of in-office treatments? Each type ensures that your full smile is brightened and that your treatment results last for several months.
How Can I Maintain White Teeth After a Treatment?
Once you’ve received a whitening treatment, you’ll want to make it last as long as possible. In order to do this, you should follow these diet guidelines for a week or two:
- Avoid colored foods and beverages – Things like wine, coffee, cherries, and berries can quickly stain your teeth.
- Avoid acidic foods and beverages – Things like lemons, pickles, limes, and tomatoes can break down your enamel, causing your teeth to be more prone to stains.
- Avoid hot and cold foods and beverages – Things like ice water, ice cream, and hot tea can also break down your enamel, causing your teeth to be more prone to stains.
If you can’t avoid consuming these foods and beverages, you should rinse or brush your teeth after eating them to minimize their effects.
Looking for a brighter smile? Talk to Dr. Mogren! At your next appointment, we’ll take a look at your teeth and discuss which whitening option would be best for you.