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The Dangers of Trying to Whiten Your Teeth At Home

Psychological Effects of Stained Teeth

Having dingy-looking teeth is enough to make you want to stop smiling altogether. Even when you cannot help but laugh, you end up adopting a new smile—one where you refuse to show your teeth. You may not realize it, but a smile like that gives off the wrong impression, as it ends up looking artificial and stifled.

Yet we all do this when our teeth are not everything they could be. Once we notice something negative about our teeth—whether they are stained, cracked, or missing—our first response is to conceal them and never show them to anyone. Talk about a Catch-22! Luckily, your local family dentist has the perfect solution to this tricky conundrum. Arkansas Family Dental, offers teeth whitening and teeth cleaning services to all of their patients.

Teeth Whitening at Home

Now, there are at-home remedies that promise the same clean, shiny results that your dentist can offer you. However, depending on your choice of teeth-whitening system, your results can vary widely. In fact, there are some hidden dangers to DIY teeth whitening products. That is why we at Arkansas Family Dental have written this guide to help you avoid the potential dental disasters of whitening your teeth at home.

DIY Teeth Whiteners Often Use Mystery Chemicals

First and foremost, know that the government regulates teeth whiteners. Because of this, only dentists are allowed to use the highest percentage of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide when whitening teeth, and for good reason. Dentists are licensed professionals, and as such, are qualified to take on any potential risks, and be held accountable should something go wrong. That said, if a licensed dentist is whitening your teeth, like those at Arkansas Family Dental, the odds of something going wrong are incredibly slim.

DIY kits for teeth whitening contain only 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. With such a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide, your teeth whitening could take weeks, if not months of daily cleansing and application. And, with an average time of 30 minutes per cleanse, you are going to need a lot of time. If you have the patience for this, then it may be worth it; otherwise, it is probably best to save a ton of time by going to the dentist.

Potency aside, some at-home whiteners do not even list all of the chemicals used in their product. This is a huge red flag for anyone wanting to whiten their teeth on their own. 

Although these products are government-regulated, there is a lot to be desired about the government’s Generally Regarded as Safe List, let alone how these regulations are applied to teeth whiteners. For example, most chemicals do not undergo any safety testing, but are still considered “safe” if added to products in minute amounts. These low standards are set for efficiency, rather than high ethical safety. They are a formality that essentially allows companies to set their own safety standards.

The government cannot test every chemical that goes into hygienic products, as there are 40,000 or more new ones created and implemented each year. And, unfortunately, the chances that some of these mystery chemicals are added to DIY teeth whitening kits are pretty high. Companies have to use proprietary formulas, so taking a recipe that works and adding a few mystery chemicals is common practice. The products your dentist uses for teeth whitening are much less altered, containing all the necessary ingredients, and little else.

DIY Kits Can Easily Irritate Gum Tissue

Even with low levels of hydrogen peroxide, DIY kits can still irritate the gums and tissues surrounding your teeth. It is just about impossible for you to see exactly where your gum line when applying a teeth whitener. That is, unless you have all the mirrors and cameras that your family dentist uses.

Chemicals of any kind can damage mucosal membranes such as the gums and gingival tissues. And, if you apply them day after day, then you can surely expect painful or sensitive areas to develop. While it may improve how your teeth look, their resilience may rapidly degrade, making it harder to brush, floss, or even eat. At the end of the day, when it comes to chemical exposure, the more conservative approach seems to work the best—less is more!

What Type of Whitening Is Right for You?

There are plenty of approaches and methods available to help you perfect your pearly whites, each of which is available through your Little Rock family dentist. The type of tooth whitening you need can be determined by answering a few simple questions:

Does the Outside of Your Teeth Need Whitening?

Are your teeth stained from eating foods with pigments like blackberries and blueberries, or coffee and tea? If so, this means that only the outside of the teeth need whitening. This can be easily remedied with teeth whiteners provided by your dentist.

Are Your Teeth Discolored Because of Tooth Decay?

Sometimes teeth are yellow or brownish in color because of what is occurring inside the enamel. Teeth can become discolored due to internal rotting. The discoloration could also be a side-effect of medication that you are taking. In either case, consultation with your Little Rock family dentist is essential. They can explain to you what is really occurring, and what can be done to remedy the situation.

Are Some Teeth More Discolored Than Others?

One thing many people really do not consider is that a DIY whitening process is indiscriminate. If certain teeth are more discolored than others, how could a DIY kit possibly bring you the best results? Even if it is effective, some teeth would still be noticeably darker than others. Only your dentist can discern which teeth need more care than others, and leave you with a uniform, evenly white smile.

How Much Time Do You Have for Teeth Whitening?

Perhaps the biggest constraint to using a DIY kit is, again, the amount of time you have to invest. Are you diligent about developing and sustaining new habits? Will you really do the whitening every single day like the instructions state? Or, do you think it would be easier for you to go to the dentist, have it done once, then never have to think about it again?

Teeth Whitening at Your Dentist’s Office

If you do decide to get your teeth whitened by your Little Rock family dentist, the teeth whitening process is pretty straightforward:

First, they clean your teeth using tools specially designed to efficiently remove plaque. This makes a big difference in the outcome. By removing the plaque, your dentist exposes the entire surface of your teeth, which ensures that no spots are missed.

Next, your dentist protects your sensitive gums and gingival tissues by applying a protective gel, which acts as a buffer from the whiteners. This way, your chances of developing sensitivity are slim to none. Your dentist can then apply a whitener specially selected to optimize the results without risking any damage to your gums.

The entire process only takes about 45 minutes, and is over before you know it.

Teeth whitening in Little Rock is always a process that transforms your self-esteem by changing your look. It is well worth it when you get it done professionally by your Little Rock family dentist. Make an appointment today for a consultation and see what is possible.

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Samaria Mascagni

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