Category: Teeth Whitening

Are whitening strips harmful?

Nearly everyone wishes their smile was bright and white, so we are always on the lookout for fast, simple, affordable ways to get there.

Truth is though, teeth staining builds up over years and reducing or eliminating it isn’t necessarily cheap or easy.

There are many reasons teeth become discolored; age, trauma, medications, and tobacco, as well as the foods we eat and drink. Very often, this discoloration can be treated with whitening agents and bring back a brighter, more vibrant smile.

Teeth whitening strips have long been plugged as a low-cost, effective way of removing the stains and brightening teeth without needing a dentist. These strips can be an effective way of improving the appearance of stained or yellow teeth, but they do come with concerns you should be aware of.

Made from flexible plastic strips that are coated with a layer of whitening gel, the strips are applied to teeth with the gel pressed against the surface and held in place for a period of time. Using the strips daily over two or three weeks allows the stains to be gradually reduced, leaving a whiter smile.

No matter how carefully you try placing the strips, there are always places where the strip isn’t in full contact with the tooth. Some areas of your teeth may not be properly covered and therefore will not be as whitened, leaving uneven results.

While the bleaching agent in whitening strips is not as powerful as the one’s dentists use, it is still a harsh chemical which can damage the soft tissues of your gums. It’s important to avoid contact between the whitening agent and your gums as much as possible

Most whitening strips are generally safe in moderation but overdoing it can cause sensitivity and sometimes permanent damage to teeth. If the layer of enamel is eroded through excessive whitening, you will not only suffer pain, but also risk decay and other problems, which could lead to losing teeth.

Whitening strips are effective for most surface stains but only if the teeth and gums are in a healthy condition to begin with. They also work for people in many different circumstances, but it’s not a solution for every situation or every person. They will not alter the shade of dental restorations or discoloration resulting from tooth trauma, antibiotic use, tooth decay or imperfections in the enamel.

Manufacturers of whitening strips note that your habits will determine how long the whitening treatment will last. For instance, coffee, tea, wine and tobacco will likely cause tooth discoloration.

Your teeth will stay whiter longer by following good oral health habits that includes brushing, flossing and rinsing. Get regular cleaning and exams from your dentist, limit intake of foods that can stain teeth and avoid tobacco completely.

Also consider that professional whitening treatment from your dentist, will provide better long term results with lower risks, although typically at a greater cost. If you choose to try the whitening strips, it’s smart to to ask your dentist for a thorough check-up and some guidance ahead of time.

Anytime you have questions about oral health, or safe and effective options for caring for teeth, it’s always best to talk with your dental professional.  Unlike traditional dental insurance, cosmetic dental procedures are also included in American Dental Group plans, including teeth whitening.

A family-owned Colorado company, American Dental Group partners with independent hometown dentists to deliver high quality care to our members.  See how an American Dental Group membership can save you money on dental care, vision materials, and prescription drugs.

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Teeth whitening myths

Everyone wants a white, majestic smile to show off. And, with so many products and treatments available for teeth whitening, how can you tell what’s effective, and more importantly, what’s safe.

Truth is, just like we all have different hair and skin color, we all come with different tooth color too. Some teeth are more yellow than others, and some get more yellow with aging. Your natural tooth color can also be affected by a number of other factors. In our quest to have the ultimately brilliant smile, there are some common myths to keep in mind.

1) Teeth whitening will damage your enamel

While whitening products can cause temporary tooth sensitivity, the truth is they don’t damage the enamel. Whitening products only remove surface stains found in the microscopic pores of your teeth and the bleach does not penetrate deeply within the tooth

2) Rubbing fruit on your teeth can help to remove stains

Strawberries, lemons, even banana peels – there are many, many folk tales about getting that white smile. But, not only will fruit not remove stains, it will also seriously damage your teeth. The high concentration of citric acid in these fruits can potentially erode teeth.

3) Once whitened, teeth will stay white forever

Unfortunately, the effects of eating, drinking and aging continue to show on your teeth even after having them whitened. To maintain your pearly smile, teeth whitening maintenance should be done on a regular basis, approximately every six months. Committing to good oral hygiene habits and brushing with a whitening toothpaste, along with avoiding foods that stain your teeth, will help the life of your white teeth last longer.

4) Active charcoal is the secret to whiter teeth

This is one of the latest viral trends on social media, and while tempting, medical professionals are warning against this DIY trend. Most dentists agree that this method may actually leave tooth enamel susceptible to deterioration and erosion, which can lead to sensitivity and cavities.

5) Whitening will make your teeth look unnatural

A common concern, it is very difficult to whiten your teeth beyond their most natural, whitest shade. If you have noticed people with unnaturally white teeth, it is likely they have had other types of cosmetic treatment done such as porcelain crowns or veneers. There’s a finite level of whitening which can be achieved, and this depends on what shade your teeth were when you started.

6) Teeth whitening causes extreme sensitivity

After a teeth whitening treatment, patients sometimes experience tooth sensitivity. This is true for both professional whitening as well as over-the-counter teeth whitening. One cause of tooth sensitivity can be a result of the bleaching agent getting on the gums and other soft tissues near a tooth. It can also be due to the dentinal tubules which are little holes in the dentin layer of the tooth that are linked to the dental pulp within the tooth. This is also why teeth can be sensitive to heat and cold. Whitening agents can cause the tubules to become exposed (which is a temporary condition), and make teeth hypersensitive. After a whitening treatment, avoid foods that are hot or cold for a day or two and it’s a good idea to brush your teeth gently and rinse with lukewarm water.

Good news! The American Dental Group Discount Plan offers discounts on Teeth Whitening (and like many cosmetic dental procedures, most traditional insurance plans have zero coverage!).