Even if you are good with your oral hygiene, you may find that your teeth have lost their bright white shine. This could be related to staining from common foods or drinks. It may also just be a result of getting older.
When it comes to whitening your teeth and restoring that youthful sparkle, there are a lot of products and tools on the market that claim to be able to give you a whiter, brighter smile.
But do these products actually work? And are they safe?
Over-the-Counter Kits, Pastes, Rinses, and Strips
A wide variety of over-the-counter teeth whitening products are available, each with its ingredient combinations and application methods.
Tooth whitening products may involve ingredients categorized as:
- Abrasives: for physically scrubbing away stains.
- Anti-redeposition agents: to prevent stain-causing particles from sticking to teeth.
- Colorants: to paint over, mask, or camouflage stains.
- Proteases: enzymes that break down stain-causing proteins.
- Peroxides: to break down stain-causing organic compounds.
- Surfactants: to help other good ingredients reach the surface of teeth.
In a clinical review of the effectiveness of teeth whitening products, researchers found that whitening strips were the most effective at modifying tooth color. On the other hand, the tested whitening pastes and rinses did not have a significant whitening effect.
Are Whitening Products Safe?
When used as directed, whitening products are generally considered safe. However, you should be aware of some potential side effects and risks.
The most common side effect is tooth sensitivity. This can happen because bleaching agents can penetrate the tooth enamel and irritate the underlying dentin.
If you experience tooth sensitivity, try using a whitening product with a lower concentration of bleaching agents. You can also try using the product less often. If you still have sensitivity, stop using the product and talk to your dentist.
Misuse or overuse of whitening products can also lead to the destruction of tooth enamel, which can cause permanent damage to your teeth.
Because of the potential for harm, some researchers warn against using any over-the-counter teeth whitening products without the involvement of dental professionals.
Other Ways to Whiten Your Teeth
Talk to your dentist if you are looking for a safe and effective way to whiten your teeth.
They can recommend or provide professional-grade whitening products and treatments that may be more helpful than what you can do on your own.
Your dentist can also help you to understand how different products work, how long the results last, and what side effects to look out for.
In addition to whitening products, there are other things you can do to help keep your teeth looking their best.
- A good daily oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash.
- Eating a healthy diet that is low in sugary and acidic foods.
- Quitting smoking.
- Avoiding stain-causing foods and drinks, such as coffee, tea, red wine, blueberries, and beets.
Most importantly, visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. They can provide deep cleanings that reach places you cannot with at-home care. They can also identify and treat any underlying problems that could affect your teeth’ health or appearance.