There are two reasons why teeth become discoloured. The first is called extrinsic discolouration. This type is caused by foods like coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine, and food with dyes. The other type is called intrinsic discolouration. This one happens from within the tooth for reasons varying from medication use, childhood illness, tooth trauma, and aging. Regardless of the cause, nobody wants to be famous for brown stained pearls. That’s why there are so many teeth whitening solutions on the market. But are they safe? Let’s first look at the various methods of teeth whitening:

At-home treatment

Whitening strips, special toothpastes, whitening trays, and gels are all home-based methods that people use to whiten their teeth. Whitening toothpaste contains some chemicals like blue covarine that target the surface of the teeth. Teeth whitening strips, on the other hand, contain hydrogen peroxide, a commonly used bleach in many teeth whitening options. You apply strips one or two times daily depending on what’s indicated on the manufacturer’s label. There are a variety of strips in the market, each containing different amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Teeth whitening trays and gels work similarly, and if you buy them over the counter, you should closely read through the manufacturer's instructions for effectiveness and safety.

Although home-based treatments may take time to whiten the teeth, consistent use does eventually bring changes, especially for mildly stained teeth.

In-office treatment

An in-office treatment is when you go to your dentist's office for a teeth whitening procedure.  For mildly stained teeth, treatment may take an hour or so. But for the more severe cases, a few visits are needed. For faster results, most dentists use hydrogen peroxide in very high concentrations. Another in-office treatment is laser whitening.  With this, the dentist applies a bleaching product on your teeth and then shines a laser on the teeth to activate the whitening. Although more expensive, this method takes much less time to achieve results - about an hour.

Safety

Depending on how the solutions are administered, teeth whitening can cause several side effects like teeth sensitivity and gum irritation. Furthermore, prolonged exposure of the teeth’s dentin layer to hydrogen peroxide and other whitening chemicals can roughen or soften the teeth’s surface. Besides causing a burning sensation in the mouth, teeth whitening chemicals can upset the stomach when ingested. Here are some precautionary tips to whiten your teeth safely:

 

  • Before undergoing a teeth whitening procedure or purchasing solutions over the counter, talk to a dentist who has experience dealing with teeth whitening in Winnipeg. The dentist will examine your teeth to check if you have any cavities or gum issues that may cause problems when exposed to whitening chemicals.
  • Avoid going to beauty salons to get your teeth whitened. Beauty experts don’t have dental qualifications to know what’s safe for your teeth or not.
  • If you decide to purchase over the counter solutions, look for the CDA seal of approval and follow the manufacturer’s instructions strictly.  If the product indicates usage once daily, using it twice daily will jeopardize the health of your teeth.
  • It’s normal to develop some temporary sensitivity in your teeth when using whitening products, but prolonged sensitivity may mean something is amiss with your gums or teeth. In case of any concerns when using the teeth whitening products or even after use, it’s best you consult your dentist.