Don’t Whiten Your Teeth at Home Without Reading This
October 31, 2022
Around 35% of U.S. adults claim to have used a home whitening kit in the past year. Before you purchase a kit, make sure you’re not putting your teeth and gums at risk. DIY teeth bleaching kits can damage your teeth and gums if you’re not careful. Here’s what you need to know.
How Do Home Whitening Kits Work?
Home teeth whitening kits whiten teeth using hydrogen peroxide to bleach the teeth. Products at home may be a whitening strip, a gel, or paint-on films that can be “boosted” using an LED light. The ingredients in whitening kits are similar, but the application can be different.
Peroxide is a bleaching agent. It works by soaking into the tooth’s surface and breaking stains up. If the discolored areas are in smaller parts, the teeth look whiter. Think of it this way. If a person with brown hair uses bleach to highlight some of their hair, the overall hair color looks lighter. It’s the same visual effect.
Not every DIY whitening kit carries an ADA seal of approval. If you’re going to try a home kit, make sure it does. Using the wrong kit can damage your enamel. You have to be very careful choosing a kit.
While bleaching can be effective, people may have unrealistic expectations regarding how white their teeth will get. That’s one of the biggest reasons you should ask your dentist for an opinion before you purchase a DIY teeth whitening kit. Your dentist knows your teeth better than anyone and can tell you if it’s a good idea and what products to use.
- Gel Trays – Some gel trays fit onto the upper and lower teeth after you’ve filled the tray with a bleaching gel. The teeth sit in the gel for the recommended time, usually 30 to 60 minutes.
- Paint-On Films – Paint-on films may be applied using a pen-like or paintbrush-like device. The product is often on the teeth for half an hour. After that, some kits use LED lighting to boost the effects. You may need to repeat the process four times a day for two full weeks.
- Toothpaste – Whitening toothpaste is very popular, but they aren’t always the best option. The goal is to use that toothpaste at each cleaning to whiten your teeth slowly. But, some contain abrasive ingredients like charcoal that are damaging.
- Whitening Strips – Whitening strips adhere to the teeth in a tape-like strip and are left in place for up to an hour. They’re used daily.
Downfalls to At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits
If it costs less, why not color your teeth at home? For some, it can be an issue, especially if you have tooth sensitivity due to weakened enamel. Have you saved money if the at-home whitening harms your gums and requires an emergency visit to your dentist in Nashville? Check out some of the downfalls to tooth whitening at home.
Allergies to hydrogen peroxide are rare, but they can happen. If you do have a reaction to hydrogen peroxide and you’re at home, it could take time for EMTs to arrive, and that can be very risky if your allergy is causing swelling in the airway.
Sometimes, the results you expect just don’t happen. If enamel is damaged, the yellowish dentin is exposed, and it’s not going to whiten as much as your enamel is. In fact, you might not see much whitening at all.
Smokers may not find that teeth bleaching does much to whitening their brown or gray teeth. Stains caused by excessive use of antibiotics like tetracycline may also not whiten as much as you’d expect.
- Lack of Desired Results
If you already have sensitive teeth, a whitening kit that you do at home may increase sensitivity for a short time. This may make it hard to drink or eat anything that is cold or hot until the sensitivity decreases.
- Increased Sensitivity
Another risk of DIY teeth whitening kits is that they can irritate your gums. Left on for too long, the gums may be inflamed. They’ll bounce back, but that inflammation can be irritating and make you not want to brush or floss your teeth until the inflammation subsides. If the irritation were to allow bacteria in, there is the risk of infection.
When you try DIY teeth whitening, the tray kits may not be shaped to your exact jaw size and teeth shape. If the gel sits on the gums for an extended amount of time, it can irritate the gums. Worse, the tray kits may cut into or scrape your gums and the whitening gel in those scrapes can be extremely painful.
- Gum Irritation
Some teeth whitening kits don’t work quickly. As people don’t see results in a day or two, they start doing them multiple times a day hoping it will work faster. This can be damaging. If you’ve been whitening your teeth all month four times a day, the amount you’ve spent on these kits adds up quickly. You can end up spending more on at-home kits than you would have during a visit to your dentist.
- Results Don’t Happen Fast Enough
Some of the “natural” teeth whitening kits use lemon (acidic), coconut oil, and salt to strip stains from your teeth. While they’re touted as being natural and less damaging, studies haven’t found any proof that they work effectively. When they use salt or charcoal, the abrasive nature can impact enamel and cause damage.
Avoid some of these complications and side effects by carefully following instructions. If the product says not to get it on the gums, make sure you take care applying the gel and avoid the gumline. Keep a timer handy to ensure you’re not leaving the whitening strip or gel on your teeth for too long.
- Abrasive or Acidic Ingredients Damage Your Enamel
It’s Better to Have a Cosmetic Dentist Whiten Your Teeth
Seeking teeth whitening at your dentist is a better idea. A Nashville dentist specializing in teeth whitening is able to whiten teeth quickly and correctly without damaging the teeth and gums. But, the process starts with an exam to determine if whitening is even possible. For some, whitening is a waste of money as the results you want are not possible.
You still have other options, and shouldn’t give up your dream of having a bright smile. If you have exposed dentin or staining that can’t be bleached, it’s still possible to get the dazzling Hollywood smile that you want, and Jody Jones DDS can help you achieve it through options like dental veneers.
Veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are affixed to your tooth’s surface. It can match your current tooth color or a few shades whiter. Veneers are the best solution if you want white teeth and do not qualify for teeth whitening. Learn more by requesting an appointment.