Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists reported that 90% of their patients requested teeth whitening services? How about the fact that when the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry asked patients what they would like to improve about their smiles, the majority of people said they wanted whiter teeth? Both of these organizations are large organizations, so their findings suggest that many Americans wished they had whiter teeth.
Since so many Americans desire a whiter, brighter smile, there are a variety of whitening options available. However, it is important to know that not all whitening treatments are effective. Not only that, but some whitening treatments may not even be safe. To prevent you from damaging your oral health, here are 5 of the most common whitening mistakes to watch for and how to prevent them:
Overusing Whitening Strips
Whitening strips are a popular over the counter whitening method that works by attaching thin strips containing whitening gel to the surface of your teeth for a set amount of time. Whitening strips can be effective to whiten the teeth, however they can be damaging if not used properly. Some people believe that wearing the strips longer or more frequently can enhance their results. Unfortunately, this does not make the results any more dramatic, but it can permanently damage the enamel and cause tooth sensitivity. Therefore, it is important to read and follow all instructions regarding the proper use of whitening strips.
Using Poorly-Fitted Whitening Trays
Another popular over the counter whitening method is whitening gel that fits into whitening trays placed over the teeth. While this method can be effective, it can also cause problems in cases where the trays do not fit properly. Unfortunately, one-size-fits-all rarely fits very well at all and can cause the whitening gel to leak out of the trays. Not only will this decrease the effectiveness of the product, but it will also cause major gum irritation. Instead, it is recommended to speak with your dentist about having customized whitening trays fabricated. Custom whitening trays are made specifically for your teeth and will fit flawlessly so that you can whiten your teeth without irritating your gums.
Brushing with Baking Soda
When it comes to DIY whitening treatments, one commonly recommended method is to brush your teeth with baking soda. Although it is true that baking soda has whitening properties and can remove surface stains, it is also highly abrasive. This means that regularly brushing your teeth with baking soda will cause permanent damage to your enamel. Instead, using a toothpaste formulated with baking soda allows you to have the whitening properties of baking soda while eliminating the threat of enamel damage.
Using Acidic Liquids to Whiten Teeth
Another DIY whitening technique consists of using lemon juice or vinegar to whiten the teeth. Even though lemon juice and vinegar can remove stains from the surface of your teeth, they can also remove the actual surface of your teeth. This is because the acids in lemon and vinegar are highly corrosive and break down the mineral structure of tooth enamel, leading to dental erosion. For this reason, it is best to entirely avoid using acidic liquids to whiten your teeth.
Using Household Products
One final DIY whitening method encourages people to utilize certain household products for the purpose of whitening their teeth. Two common products that are recommended are hydrogen peroxide and bleach. These products should NEVER be used in or around the mouth because they are not intended for this use and are not safe for your oral or overall health.