The recent advent of in-home kits have made teeth whitening part of our regular routine. And of course, some still go to their dentist’s office for a professional, cosmetic teeth whitening session. Coffee and red wine drinkers especially utilize the option to keep their teeth pearly white despite their vices. But is teeth whitening safe?
Our teeth are covered with plaque, which is normally regarded as a bad thing, but plaque is part of the enamel that helps protect our teeth from nerve damage. Teeth whitening breaks down the enamel of the teeth, making them more sensitive to touch and temperature.
Risks associated with teeth whitening
If you over-whiten your teeth, you can experience extreme sensitivity. Hot food and drinks such as coffee and tea will cause pain in your nerve receptors. The same goes for very cold food and drinks, such as ice cream or ice water. Most in-home whitening treatments do contain bleach and recommend that you do not swallow, as this can cause internal damage.
There are many at-home teeth whitening kits. They all include a whitening solution specially designed to break down the enamel of the teeth and then bleach the layer under the surface. Most in-home kits take several sessions to see full results. Some of them come with a pen and require you to individually “draw” bleach on each tooth. Some come in the form of a flexible mouth guard that molds to all your teeth.
At-home treatments only take a few minutes, and then several follow-up treatments to keep teeth white. These do contain bleach, which is why it is important to follow directions and be sure not to swallow the solution.
A popular natural treatment is activated charcoal, which can be purchased online or in certain health specialty stores. Activated charcoal is a black powder and can be brushed onto the teeth, left for several minutes and rinsed just like the in-home kits.
The results are usually less intense because this treatment does not use bleach. It still breaks down plaque and reveals a whiter, new outer layer of enamel, but without bleaching it. Activated charcoal has fewer health risks, especially when swallowing is considered, because it does not contain bleach. Imbibing too much activated charcoal can negatively affect your digestion, however, as well as make some medications ineffective.
Any dentists who provide cosmetic treatments will likely have teeth whitening on their menu of services. The benefits of having your teeth whitened professionally is that they will do a thorough deep clean first, and their solution provides extreme results in one visit. It does still use bleach but is applied by a professional.
Making the right choice
Whether at home or with a professional, teeth whitening treatments are widely considered safe. The risk involved is ingesting the bleach solution or over-utilizing whitening kits that can break down teeth enamel to an unhealthy degree, increasing sensitivity.
Looking for teeth whitening near the 20166 area? Call Titan Dental Care at (703) 745-3227.
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