8 Teeth Whitening Mistakes: What Not to Do 

Some people notice a darkening of their teeth as they age. This darkening happens as a result of lifestyle choices and the foods we eat. Cigarette smoking can stain teeth, and so can drinking coffee or tea. Even some medications make teeth darker. Most people want a white smile simply for aesthetic purposes. Thus, whitening teeth is a way to improve your smile. However, there are some tips you should follow before you whiten your teeth, and there are also some teeth whitening mistakes you should avoid. 

1. Consult With Your Dentist First

Some people whiten with over-the-counter whitening products. These products, when used according to package instructions, can be very effective. However, some people make the mistake of not seeing a dentist first. Always consult a dentist before whitening. A dentist can assess your mouth for any problem areas. It is best to treat any cavities or dental problems before you whiten teeth. For instance, if you have teeth that are discolored due to decay, the whitening process may not lighten your damaged teeth. It is best to whiten a healthy mouth. Fix problem areas first. Lowry Dental provides services to treat dental problems, such as periodontal disease and tooth infection. 
Let your dentist know if you plan to use an over-the-counter whitening system. The dentist can advise on which products are best. Most dental offices also have whitening products available. They can provide you with a custom-fitting mouth tray. Custom trays fit your mouth better and ensure that bleach remains where it’s intended to be instead of smearing it onto the gums. Preventing bleach from getting all over your gums is important because bleach can actually damage gums. Because everyone’s mouth is shaped and sized differently, there is really no such thing as a one size fits all tray. Thus, you should use a custom-fit mouth tray.

2. Try Natural Whitening Methods Before Bleaching

Some people make the mistake of thinking that whitening is the only method of lightening their teeth. However, bleach can be hard on the teeth and gums. Before you whiten your teeth, ask a dentist for natural ways of changing the color of your teeth. Also try these tips:
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice daily. Brushing removes some surface level stains and can keep teeth whiter. Flossing removes particles between teeth. These particles, when not removed, can form plaque, which makes teeth duller and darker.
  • Enjoy tooth-staining foods and beverages in moderation. Yes, it’s true that red wine, berries, coffee and tea stain your teeth, but that does not mean you have to completely give up these items. Practicing good oral hygiene and having teeth professionally cleaned regularly can keep your teeth whiter, even if you consume these foods each week. Though dark berries can stain teeth, these berries also have many helpful antioxidants in them. After eating berries, rinse your mouth with water, then brush your teeth after about thirty minutes. This way, you get the nutrients from the berries, but remove the acid they leave on your teeth. 
  • Quit smoking. Don’t use smokeless tobacco either. Tobacco products are bad for your overall health, and they also stain teeth. 

3. Follow Tooth Whitening Package Instructions

Some people leave the whitening gels or strips on their teeth longer than recommended. They do this because they believe leaving them on for a longer period will lighten the teeth more. However, leaving whitening products on the teeth longer is one of many common teeth whitening mistakes. At-home whiteners contain peroxides in them, which can make your teeth sensitive. Leaving them on too long can make your gums sore. Always follow the package instructions. If you are uncertain about the instructions, consult the manufacturer or ask your dentist. 

4. Follow After Care Instructions

Eating the wrong foods after whitening teeth is another common mistake some people make. For instance, you should avoid drinking soda, sports drinks and acidic drinks for several hours after whitening your teeth. Because your teeth are sensitive after you’ve whitened them, it is also best to avoid eating certain foods. For the first few hours after whitening, adhere to the following tips:
  • Avoid drinking teeth-staining beverages, such as red wine, tea or coffee. 
  • Avoid smoking for at least the first 24 hours after the whitening process. 
  • It is okay to eat light-colored foods, such as boiled chicken, rice and peeled potatoes after whitening your teeth.

5. Bridges, Crowns or Other Synthetics

One of the most common teeth whitening mistakes is to whiten with synthetic teeth in the mouth. In fact, some people don’t realize they have a crown or bridge that can’t be whitened. When they finish the whitening process, they end up with whiter natural teeth, but their synthetic teeth remain dark. This negatively impacts the smile because it creates an uneven smile. 
If you have false teeth, consult your dentist before you whiten. If you don’t have any false teeth and know that you need a dental implant, crown, bridge or other synthetic tooth, ask a dentist if you can whiten your smile before you get the false tooth. That way, the tooth will be colored to fit your whiter smile. In some cases, whitening synthetic teeth can also damage your synthetics. Consult with your dentist about how to handle whitening when you have false teeth. Ask if your teeth can be whitened, and inquire about the best whitening methods. 

6. Whitening Too Much

Some people make the mistake of whitening their teeth too often. Doing so can actually damage your teeth. Too much bleach used in a short amount of time can cause teeth to become discolored, which can’t be easily fixed without replacing the discolored teeth. Ask a dentist for advice on how frequently you should whiten your teeth. 

7. Follow-up Sessions

Just as some people whiten too frequently, others don’t realize they need to do follow-up sessions to help teeth keep their whiter appearance. It is also important to realize that tooth whitening doesn’t last forever. Months or years after whitening, your teeth can get stained again as a result of eating or drinking certain foods. Most whitening processes keep teeth white for about 6 months to 2 years. However, this time clock varies depending on your habits, such as how often you consume tooth-staining foods, how often you have your teeth professionally cleaned and whether or not you smoke. 
There is also something called a rebound effect, which means teeth will lighten, but then rebound to a certain darker shade. Ask a dentist for instructions regarding how to achieve the shade you’re going for. A dentist can tell you how much or how often you should whiten.

8. Shop Around

Because whitening is seen as a cosmetic procedure, many insurance plans don’t cover it. People without insurance coverage often try to whiten at home or buy an inexpensive whitening system to save money. While saving money is important, you also want to make sure you’re using a quality method. Ask your dentist for a recommendation, or have your teeth professionally done at your dental office. Lowry Dental provides whitening and bleaching services. Having the procedure done at a dental office reduces your risk of damaging your teeth. 
Cosmetic dentistry is popular because people want a bright and healthy-looking smile. Prevention is the most important step to ensure your smile stays white. Always brush twice daily and floss each day. Reduce your intake of red wine, coffee and tea. Do not smoke. However, if you must whiten, do your research and practice safe whitening methods. Whether you choose to whiten at home or at the dental office, always consult with your dentist before you undergo any treatment plan.

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