The Risks of Unsupervised Whitening

The Risks of Unsupervised Whitening

May 26, 2015

According to a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, “when respondents were asked, ‘What would you like to improve most about your smile?’ The most common response was: Whiter & brighter teeth.” Most people would like to enjoy a lighter smile, so it comes as no surprise that teeth whitening products make up at $11 billion industry. You probably see whitening toothpastes, gels, trays, and more at every turn, from your grocery store to mall kiosks. However, not all whitening treatments are created equal. Teeth whitening is an elective, aesthetic procedure, but it should still be taken seriously, especially since it can impact your overall oral health. Read on to learn more about the risks of unsupervised whitening and how Dr. Armstrong and our team can help you more safely enhance your smile.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Your teeth can become discolored or stained for any number of reasons, including aging, consuming dark-colored foods and beverages, or taking certain medications. The active ingredient in most teeth whitening treatments is a bleaching agent, typically hydrogen peroxide. This substance penetrates your enamel to dissolve colored particles and restore the natural, light luster of your smile.

You can purchase unsupervised at-home teeth whitening treatments online, at spas, and even in convenience stores. These relatively inexpensive products use a fairly mild bleaching agent in the form of a gel, paste, or strip. In most cases, you’ll need to apply the teeth whitening treatment for several hours a day each day until you reach your desired results.

Potential Side Effects of Unsupervised Treatment

Whenever you modify your smile, it’s best to work with a trained and experienced dentist, like Dr. Armstrong, who can help you understand your unique needs. The dangers of unsupervised teeth whitening include:

  • Unsatisfactory results. Without purchasing a dentist-approved whitening treatment, you can’t be sure that your product will be effective. This could mean that you waste time and money without enjoying a brighter smile.
  •  Tooth sensitivity. The bleaching agent can irritate your dental nerves, causing discomfort and sensitivity that may be temporary or permanent. While this can occur with professional treatment, it is much more likely when you are left to your own devices, since you may not apply the treatment exactly as recommended.
  •  Periodontal inflammation or stinging. If the whitening solution comes in contact with your gum tissues, it may cause them to tingle, burn, or swell for a short or longer period. This side effect is much more likely with unsupervised treatment because it is less precise. For example, if you place a whitening strip over your teeth, it probably will not exactly fit the distinctive curves of your teeth, thereby exposing your gums to bleach.
  • Improper diagnosis. A 2009 report by the American Dentistry Association Council on Scientific Affairs explains: “concerns have remained about the long-term safety of unsupervised bleaching procedures, due to abuse and possible undiagnosed or underlying oral health problems.” If your tooth is discolored due to eroding enamel, caries, or an infected pulp, applying bleach to it may only exacerbate the problem. This is why it is best to have a diagnostic exam and discuss your cosmetic concerns with your dentist before embarking on teeth whitening.

Whitening with the Professionals

Dr. Armstrong and our team members can help you whiten your teeth while maintaining your oral health. In addition to chairside professional whitening, performed directly by Dr. Armstrong, we offer convenient take-home treatments to help you enhance your smilewithout the risks of unsupervised teeth whitening. If you’d like a treatment kit, Dr. Armstrong will make an impression of your teeth to create a custom-made plastic tray. Once this oral appliance has been manufactured, he will provide an appropriate strength of whitening solution for you to fill the tray with at home. You will then wear the tray for several hours per day according to his instructions until you have the dazzling smile you’d like. We make ourselves available to our patients throughout this process, so if you ever have any questions or experience unusual symptoms, simply contact us for advice.

Enjoy Safe, Successful Whitening

While teeth whitening treatments seem to be everywhere these days, your smile and your health will be best served by working with an accredited, qualified professional. Contact Craig Armstrong, D.D.S. to learn more about teeth whitening or schedule an appointment.

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