How Often Should I Whiten my Teeth?
Everyone wants whiter teeth, but how often you should have the process done is one that has been commonly discussed. Presently, there are whitening strips/kits that are available on the market as well as bleaching at a dentist office, making it more convenient and affordable than ever before to have a dazzling smile. There are risks involved with using whitening agents on your teeth, however, so knowing the risks beforehand can minimize the problems associated with bleaching too often. To determine how frequently teeth should be whitened, it is important to know how you plan on achieving a whiter smile as there are a few methods to take into consideration, each with their own set of pros and cons. Before undergoing any treatments, however, it is advisable to make an appointment with your dentist in order to check that your teeth are not damaged, as bleaching agents could potentially affect crevices and nerve endings.
A visit to the dentist’s office for in-chair (or alternately known as laser teeth) whitening is a preferred method for many, lasting up to a year or more. There are also professional whitening kits that can be bought from the dentist and done at home which also last up to a year. Another popular method to consider are pre-packaged whitening kits that can be bought over the counter and used no more than twice a year for two weeks at a time.
Pinpointing the Cause of Stains
There are two ways in which teeth are stained and it is important to know the nature of stains in order to know how to effectively treat them: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic stains are found underneath the enamel of the teeth and because they are so deeply embedded, teeth whitening products may do little to remove stains. Teeth that are grayish or purplish in tone fall under this category and may be extremely difficult to remove through a bleaching process.
Extrinsic stains are found on the surface of teeth and are therefore the easiest ones to remove with whitening products. Stains which are yellowish in nature respond the best to whitening, following by brownish-colored teeth.
In order to find out which stains are affecting your teeth, a consultation with a dentist is necessary. One of the best ways to ensure that a whitening procedure works effectively, having a teeth cleaning by a dentist ensures that the whitening process works at optimal levels. Before any process, however, it is important to consult your primary care physician or dentist before any treatments.
Knowing the Risks of Teeth Whitening
As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks involved, and teeth whitening procedures – however small – can result in temporary tooth sensitivity immediately following the process and/or mild irritation around the gums and other soft tissues areas of the mouth. These conditions, although they rarely occur, typically last about 24-72 hours after applying whitening agents. There are currently special toothpastes that can be used for sensitive teeth following a whitening procedure to reduce irritation. Overall, teeth whitening agents that are available through a dental office generally meet the requirements for safety and have been vetted for effectiveness.
The Follow-Up After Teeth Bleaching
After receiving an in-office whitening or using over the counter bleaching agents, scheduling an appointment with a dentist to check on gums and teeth may be necessary. Since whitening is not permanent, exposure to the foods and drinks that cause stains may lead to white teeth fading as quickly as a month after application. In order to maintain whiter teeth, it is advisable to avoid these as often as possible and schedule a touch-up treatment as needed.
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