How to Know if You’re a Good Candidate for Teeth Whitening

There is no denying the impression a bright, white smile can make on others. People experience an increased sense of confidence when their teeth are a cleaner, brighter shade of white. Since our teeth are porous, it is natural for them to become discolored, whether the result of the foods and beverages we enjoy or simply from growing older. When facing someone who has a bright set of white teeth, it is not unreasonable to wonder how they got them, and then, wondering how to know if you’re a good candidate for teeth whitening yourself.

Considerations and Recommendations

Dentists will tell you tooth whitening is one of the most requested cosmetic dental procedures, and it also happens to be the least aggressive way to achieve that bright, aesthetically pleasing smile. Despite the way some people are motivated to get their teeth as white as they can be, it is not normal for teeth to be so perfectly white. The porous nature of teeth makes them susceptible to staining, which is why some treatments do not seem to last very long. This is due to some of the foods we eat or our favorite habits, such as:

  • Coffee and tea beverages
  • Wine
  • Tomato sauce
  • Berries
  • Some sports drinks
  • Tobacco use

If you want to make the most of teeth whitening, you would do well to avoid the things that tend to stain the teeth. Those who are heavy smokers or frequent coffee or tea drinkers will find they need more frequent treatments to keep that smile so white. Then again, when the smile gets too white, it can be a little distracting.

If you have had any work done that called for matching the color of fillings, crowns, veneers or caps, be aware that these elements will not be changed through the whitening process. These devices are impervious to staining and, therefore, also impervious to whitening.

Not All Stains Are Created Equal

Our teeth get stained more yellow to yellow-brown from the foods we eat and from smoking. On the bright side, these stains are the easiest to treat as they occur on the outermost tooth surfaces. Intrinsic stains are those that appear grayer or gray-brown existing below the enamel surface. Treatment for intrinsic stains must pass through the pores to reach the dentin. Gray stains are the hardest to remove but not impossible to achieve. It just may be that satisfactory results will need more dedication to the process, plus a little patience.

See Your Dentist before Getting Started

In addition to going to the dentist for whitening procedures, there are several safe teeth-whitening agents available over the counter. Your options include the following:

  • Whitening rinses
  • Whitening strips
  • Whitening gels
  • Tray-based whiteners
  • Whitening toothpastes
  • In-office whitening treatments

When manufacturer’s instructions are properly followed, bleaching agents are not harmful. However, tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gums can occur. An upset stomach or a burning sensation to the gums and throat can occur with stronger bleaching agents. Sensitivity or tissue irritation tend to subside within a few days after treatment. Given the existing controversy over whether teeth bleaching may affect the structure of the teeth and enamel, it is highly recommended that you consult with a dentist to make sure you are a good candidate for treatment after examining all the factors that could come into play.

While the benefits of tooth whitening are mostly cosmetic, 96 percent of adults are convinced that attractive smiles make them more sexually appealing, and 74 percent of adults believe an unattractive smile negatively impacts employment prospects. Before you spend the money, it is best to make sure to have cavities treated first and make sure your gums are healthy. Knowing the benefits and drawbacks and having your dentist’s blessing ahead of time can help you avoid some of the issues others have faced when trying whitening products on their own. For the best results, consider having an in-office treatment and follow all the recommendations your dentist gives you.

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