Many people wished they had whiter teeth. In fact, when the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry surveyed people on what they’d like to change about their smile, most people said they wanted whiter teeth. The American Association of Orthodontics also reported that 90% of orthodontic patients requested teeth whitening procedures after completing orthodontic treatment.
Since there is such a large demand for teeth whitening, there are a variety of whitening options available. However, not all these options are effective or even safe. To protect your oral health while whitening your teeth, let’s take a look at the top 5 most common teeth whitening mistakes, as well as how to avoid them.
Overusing Whitening Strips
Whitening strips are a popular over the counter whitening method. The idea is that you place the strips on the surface of your teeth and leave them in place for a specified amount of time. Although they can effectively whiten your teeth, wearing them too long or too often does not increase their effectiveness. In fact, overusing whitening strips can permanently damage your tooth enamel, causing tooth sensitivity and increasing the risk of decay. Whitening strips can also cause gum irritation if they touch the gums. To avoid these mistakes, use whitening strips as directed and be careful when applying them to your teeth. If you are still experiencing tooth sensitivity, then it is recommended to discontinue use and speak with your dentist about alternatives.
Brushing with Baking Soda
You may have heard that brushing with baking soda can whiten your teeth. This is because baking soda has whitening properties and an abrasive texture which can remove surface stains. However, baking soda is less effective as a whitener than several other products and its abrasiveness can damage your enamel, especially if you are using it daily. Instead, it is recommended to use a whitening toothpaste that contains baking soda, since it offers you the whitening properties of baking soda in a form that is safe for your enamel.
Using Acidic Liquids to Whiten Teeth
Using acids, such as citric acid found in lemons and acetic acid found in apple cider or white vinegar, is another method used to whiten teeth. However, this method is particularly detrimental to your oral health because acids are one of the most damaging substances you can expose your enamel to. Lemon juice and vinegars have been proven to leach calcium and several other vital minerals from tooth enamel, ultimately leading to dental erosion. Therefore, it is recommended to completely avoid using any type of acidic substance to whiten your teeth.
Using Household Products
There are claims that using various types of household products, such as hydrogen peroxide or bleach, can whiten your teeth. However, these methods are extremely dangerous to both your oral and overall health. For starters, these products are not made for use on the teeth or in the mouth and can cause serious damage to your enamel, gums, and internal organs (if accidentally swallowed). Therefore, you should NEVER attempt to use household products for whitening your teeth.
One-Size-Fits-All Whitening Trays
In addition to whitening strips, another popular over the counter whitening method are whitening trays. Whitening trays are made so that a whitening gel can be placed inside the tray. The entire tray is then placed in the mouth and over the teeth. However, one-size-fits-all never actually fits all. Instead, poorly-fitted whitening trays may not be effective, especially if the whitening gel leaks. Not to mention, leaky whitening gel can also lead to gum irritation. In these cases, it is recommended to speak with your dentist about having customized whitening trays fabricated. Customized whitening trays are made by taking a dental impression of your mouth, so they will fit perfectly over your teeth. This helps to maximize effectiveness while minimizing gum irritation.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.