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Are Over the Counter Whiteners Safe and Effective?

10/27/2017 12:54PM ● Published by Digital Media Director

By: Brienne Grossman, DDS, Family Dental Center – Sioux Falls, SD

Some over-the-counter products you encounter might include whitening toothpastes, gels on strips or in trays and mouthwashes. The effectiveness of the different products may vary. For example, whitening toothpastes generally just help to remove surface stains on the teeth using a gentle polishing action. A gel, whether it is on a strip or a tray, generally will have peroxide to penetrate deeper in to the tooth to remove stains within the tooth. A mouthwash will help to dissolve surface stains, not penetrating the tooth. With the supervision and recommendation of a dentist, these products can be used safely.

To ensure you are using the safest and most effective tooth whitening system, it’s recommended you consult with your dentist first. This is especially important if you have multiple dental restorations or have extremely dark teeth. Your dentist will do a thorough exam, and recommend certain products based on the findings of this exam. You should not whiten your teeth if you have untreated decay or active gum disease.

Some common side effects patients will report include tooth sensitivity and soft tissue irritation. This can occur more often if the trays or strips do not fit well and if the products are used more often than recommended. If symptoms do occur, stop using the product, and the symptoms should subside within a few days. If they persist, visit with your dentist.

Once you have achieved your ideal whiteness, there are a few things you can do to maintain the color without having to continuously whiten. Avoid surface staining products such as coffee, tea, dark soda or red wine. Smoking is known to quickly cause staining, so this will be another great reason to quit! Great oral hygiene will not only clean food and plaque off teeth, but also helps to minimize the ability for surface stains to accumulate. Consult with your dentist before you start whitening and follow the recommendations of your dentist and you should be able to safely and effectively whiten your teeth.

For more information on the Family Dental Center, check out their website: https://www.familydentalcenter.org

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