Dear Dr. Canzoneri: I am becoming very self-conscious about my smile. My daughter’s graduation is in a few weeks and I need something done fast. I want to whiten my teeth but am very concerned that it will damage my teeth in some way. I don’t know what to do!
– Is Whiter Better?
Dear Is Whittier Better:
Teeth may be stained or discolored for a number of reasons. If you want to make your teeth whiter and or brighter, you can do so safely. There are a number of “teeth whitening options.” The first thing to do is see your dentist. You should get a professional cleaning and mouth exam. Who knows, a thorough cleaning by a hygienist may make your smile sparkle! There are really three whitening options: administered by your dentist, dispensed by your dentist to use at home or over the counter products not monitored by a dentist.
In-office whitening is a great option because you see results very quickly. A dentist may use a whitening gel alone on your teeth, a light, or an advanced laser in the office. Dentists can also make custom-fit trays for your mouth and you then add gel to it for a specific period of time.
Over the counter products are whitening toothpastes and whitening strips. The main problem with this type of whitening is it is slow. If you are going to use over the counter products I would look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
As a precaution, to be on the safe side pregnant women and nursing mothers should postpone teeth whitening. While teeth whitening is considered safe there are a some side effects from treatment. The two main unwanted effects, that I see once in a while, are teeth sensitivity and irritated gums.
My favorite form of teeth whitening, in my office, is Laser Assisted Whitening. Always remember to follow your dentist’s instructions or the instructions on a products label. Whitening is an amazing, safe way to refresh a smile.