Dos and Don’ts of Teeth Whitening

Dos and Don’ts of Teeth Whitening

Let’s be honest – most, if not all of us, would love to have whiter teeth. There are various ways to whiten your teeth, but the two most common are in-office treatments and the do-it-yourself approach with over-the-counter products. It is important to talk to your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration and involve bleaching agents that, if not used correctly, can damage tooth enamel.  Learn the do’s and don’ts of teeth whitening to ensure you’re successfully and safely whitening your smile.

Do Practice Good Oral Hygiene Before Whitening

If you are choosing to use over-the-counter whitening strips to whiten your teeth, keep in mind that these products are designed for use in a healthy mouth. If you have buildup on your teeth, you are not going to achieve the results you are looking for.  Brushing and flossing are essential parts of preparing, but so is visiting your dentist for a good cleaning. For best results, schedule your six-month dental checkup and cleaning right before you plan on starting a whitening system. This way, the dentist can spot if you have tooth decay, which can go against the product you’re planning to use. For instance, holes in the teeth can make the bleaching product seep into them and hit nerves, causing pain and severe damage.

Don’t Consume Foods that Can Stain Your Teeth

The first few days after treatment are the most critical. Avoid dark foods/liquids, drink through a straw when you can, don’t smoke, and brush and floss frequently. Keep in mind, the less you indulge in “staining” foods and drinks, the longer your results should last. You don’t need to give up staining foods completely, but you should avoid them whenever possible. Coffee, tea, wine, blueberries, dark-colored sodas and fruit juices are common culprits of staining. If you are not sure if a certain food or beverage might stain, think of it this way: foods that can stain your white carpet can also stain your teeth.

Do Avoid Acidic Foods

Acidic foods break down the enamel on your teeth that makes them more porous and more inclined to absorb stains from the food and drinks you consume.  A common culprit of this kind of tooth destruction is soda or carbonated drinks.  If you consume these drinks often, over time you’ll notice your teeth dulling in color or even yellowing.  And don’t be fooled into thinking a clear soda won’t do as much damage – sodas have almost the same acidic level regardless of their color.  Some other drinks to watch out for are grapefruit juice, tomato juice and lemonade because of their high acidic content. If you must indulge in these foods and drinks, it is recommended to brush your teeth right after. If you don’t have a toothbrush at arm’s reach, rinse your mouth with water.

Do Check The Expiration Dates on Your Tooth Whitening Products

Be wary of flash sales on tooth whitening kits! Often, the reason why these kits are on sale is because they are close to their expiration date.  If you think it might be a while before you actually get around to using a product, it’s best not to purchase at that time. Whitening gel’s main ingredient for whitening is hydrogen peroxide. Over time, hydrogen peroxide changes to water and oxygen. If you try and use a whitening kit after its expiration date, chances are you will only be getting gel and water, as the oxygen will have leaked from the package. Oxygen is the key component for whitening your teeth.  For best results, throw away any product you find in your home that has passed its expiration date.

Don’t Store Whitening Strips in Hot Temperatures

If you are planning on doing your shopping on a hot day, make sure your whitening strips don’t get left in your hot car while you run other errands. Heat inactivates the peroxide in whitening strips, so leaving them in a hot car while you run errands is a bad idea. On the flip side, if you don’t plan to use your whitening products right away, storing them in the refrigerator can help extend their shelf life.

Do Apply Touch-Ups In Between Whitening Treatments

Most over-the-counter whitening kits recommend an application every six months.  To keep your smile looking bright, and to avoid having to undergo the initial whitening process all over again, try doing one day’s whitening application once or twice a month.  Be careful not to apply the strips more often than that though, since overuse can irritate gums and cause your teeth to be extra sensitive and painful.

Do you have questions about teeth whitening? Call Hartnett Dental to schedule an appointment with your dentist today! (716) 649-6633