It’s the single most obvious and important question on the subject of teeth whitening in general.
That being – should you go ahead and whiten your teeth or not?
These days, there are so many high-quality whitening kits available for next to nothing that anyone wishing to do so can get busy with the stain-removal. The quality of said products may vary significantly from one to the next, but even those right at the top of the table are now more affordable than they’ve ever been.
Nevertheless, just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Which is precisely why while some people will tell you that whitening your teeth is something that everyone should do, others advise giving it a miss.
But what’s the truth? Or more importantly, what have the professionals to say about it all?
The Truth About White Teeth
Well, the first and most important thing to bear in mind is that there’s a reason why brilliantly-white teeth you need to wear sunglasses to look at somehow don’t seem quite right. And that’s because, contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe, bright-white teeth are anything but natural. The simple fact of the matter being that our teeth are not supposed to be the kind of brilliant-white so many people want them to be.
Instead, teeth that are perfectly healthy and left to their own devices are typically a kind of off-white colour with a hint of yellow. Hence the reason why it is fundamentally impossible to reach decisive conclusions about an individual’s oral health, simply by the colour of their teeth.
Well…there is one extreme example where it is possible to pick up on damage through discoloration, but these are rare examples to say the least.
The first thing to bear in mind when it comes to teeth whitening and the various teeth whitening kits on the market these days is that discoloured teeth are not necessarily unhealthy teeth. So if your primary concern is that of walking around with a mouthful of unhealthy teeth, you might want to think twice about the snap judgments you are making with regard to their colour.
Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Kits
If you decide to go ahead and whiten your teeth, chances are you will follow the example of about 99% of other people and go for the DIY option. The reason being that the vast majority of over-the-counter teeth whitening kits tend to be exponentially cheaper than professional treatments. Nevertheless, professionals advise a sense of healthy caution when it comes to these products, given the way in which they have the potential to cause damage of their own.
For a DIY teeth whitening kit to work, it needs to contain at least some kind of compound that’s strong enough to open the pores in the teeth, penetrate deep-down and remove those pesky stains. Unfortunately, such solutions and substances can also damage the gums and other soft tissues within the mouth, causing discomfort and irritation. Particularly if you happen to have sensitive teeth or any existing oral health issues whatsoever, you may find the vast majority of DIY kits a little on the painful side.
They can also exacerbate problems like sensitive teeth even further.
In terms of professional whitening, the vast majority of dentists follow a very similar process to that of a DIY kit. The only difference being that their own tools, preparations and equipment are considerably stronger and more sophisticated than those available for OTC purchase. Plus, of course, the benefit of having the process watched over by an experienced professional speaks for itself.
Nevertheless, the professional approach to teeth whitening doesn’t always prove to be ideal for everyone. The bonus of taking the professional route being that if you do have any potential issues that could render it a bad idea, they’ll be brought to the surface before the procedure goes ahead. Or should that be, doesn’t go ahead – the dentist isn’t going to perform a whitening procedure on a patient they believe isn’t a good candidate.
Effectiveness and Expectations
One of the biggest mistakes made by millions of people who set out to whiten their teeth is that of having unrealistic expectations. Having clearly read a little too deeply into the marketing spiel, they firmly believe that just a couple of treatments down the line, they’ll have the kind of blistering white smile that’s borderline blinding. In reality, this rarely turns out to be the case at all.
The thing to understand about teeth whitening is that in terms of colour change, it all comes down to the colour and condition of your teeth beforehand. It’s a little like using hair dye – the colour of your hair at the time you apply the product can and will have a marked impact on the resulting colour. Long story short therefore – if you have excessively yellow, stained or discoloured teeth, you cannot expect miracles by way of conventional teeth whitening. In fact, there’s every chance you won’t notice a great deal of difference whatsoever!
There’s nothing to stop you trying, but you need to acknowledge the fact that the results may not be nearly as impressive as you hoped.
So…Should I or Shouldn’t I?
So to conclude by returning to the original question – is it a good idea to attempt to whiten your teeth?
The short answer – yes! But only if you gauge your expectations accordingly and speak to your dentist beforehand. Even if you have no intention of going ahead with a professional treatment, it is still advisable to speak to your dentist to determine whether you are a good candidate for DIY whitening. What’s more, they will also be able to give you their own recommendations as to which kits to use and which products to stay away from in the process.
Just as is the case with all aspects of oral health and hygiene, it pays to seek professional input before taking the DIY route.