When it comes to your smile, finding ways to make it shine can boost confidence and help you feel more comfortable in your appearance. A popular way to achieve that brighter smile is by whitening any discolored or stained teeth that stand out. How you go about that whitening, however, is crucial not just to achieving the results you want but in protecting your teeth and gums.
Teeth whitening options abound these days, from over-the-counter whitening toothpastes, strips, and kits to professional services offered by an experienced dentist. Yet, an unhealthy tooth whitening practice is also gaining attention and involves the use of household bleach as a way to achieve whiter teeth.
If you are currently thinking about or already using bleach to brush or whiten your teeth, it’s time to stop and understand why this is detrimental to your oral health.
Bleach is a corrosive substance. Since your gums and teeth are porous, using bleach on them can result in damage to the living tissues inside your mouth and fail to provide the whitening results you are seeking.
Reasons Not to Use Bleach for Teeth Whitening
Here are several dental health-related reasons why you shouldn’t use bleach while brushing or attempting to whiten your teeth.
While tooth whitening treatments, in general, can cause sensitivity in teeth, bleaching can cause hypersensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks.
The use of bleach to brush or whiten teeth will also cause gum irritation and can irritate your throat as well. In addition, due to the corrosive nature of bleach, it can cause your gums to bleed and make them feel uncomfortable.
Tooth Enamel Erosion
The excessive use of bleach to whiten your teeth can cause tooth enamel erosion. Tooth enamel is the extremely hard substance that protects your tooth. With its destruction, your oral health will be greatly affected, leading to more tooth decay, pain, and risks for tooth fracturing.
Dark, Translucent Teeth
When using bleach to whiten your teeth, you may experience the opposite and instead see teeth darken. This darker appearance is actually due to the increasing translucence of teeth when bleach is used.
Damage to Crowns or Veneers
In addition to the effects bleach can have on your oral health, if you accidentally swallow a small amount, it can cause stomach irritation and vomiting. Any more than a little and severe injury can occur.
Healthier Ways to Whiten Your Teeth
Fortunately, there are healthier ways than using bleach to whiten your teeth. These include the following.
Gently brushing with baking soda can help whiten teeth a shade or two lighter, but rarely much more. While it’s true that baking soda can scratch teeth, by mixing it with water to form a thick paste, you can gently brush teeth and lessen stains and discolorations.
Whitening toothpaste contains a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, not bleach, and can lighten teeth up to two shades. You will need to limit your use of these to protect against tooth enamel erosion and dentin exposure, which occurs over long-term, continuous use.
Thin, flexible whitening strips mold to the shape of your teeth. Apply them according to the directions. These aids consist of the whitening ingredient peroxide, not bleach as many may think.
Whitening Mouth Rinses
Whitening mouth rinses contain ingredients like hydrogen peroxide to lighten teeth. While it can take three months or more to see results, it is a safe alternative to using bleaching products.
Professional Teeth Whitening
The home treatments listed above are best for improving tooth coloring a few shades at the most. For more whitening options beyond that, consult with your dentist to learn about professional take-home and in-office treatments.
Take-Home Custom Whitening Kit
Your dentist can provide you with a custom whitening kit to use at home. These kits contain custom-fitted whitening trays and a whitening gel to insert in the trays before placement. The gel is usually a carbamide peroxide, and it will take two weeks or longer to see the results.
Professional In-Office Whitening Treatment
A professional in-office whitening treatment takes approximately one hour to create results. A stronger whitening solution is inserted into customized trays and inserted in your mouth under the care of your dental team. To help the process along, light or heat may be used. You may also receive solutions to use at home following the in-office treatment.
Contact Stiles Dental Care for Safe Tooth-Whitening Options
When it comes to creating a smile you want to share, the safest and most effective tooth-whitening treatments available are here at Stiles Dental Care. Dr. Stiles and his team will evaluate your current dental health and help you choose the best treatment for your needs. Contact our office here in Medford today to learn more or to schedule a consultation.