Want Whiter Teeth Without Consequences? Make Sure You Follow These Dos And Don'ts

What would you give to have whiter teeth? Most people are willing to sacrifice some money and perhaps a couple of afternoons in the dentist's chair in order to achieve the bright, white smiles of their dreams. But one thing you certainly should not sacrifice is the health of your teeth. If you're not careful when it comes to whitening your teeth, you might end up with enamel damage, tooth sensitivity, or other problems. Having white teeth isn't worth it if it gives you several cavities or leads to an inability to eat ice cream ever again, is it? Follow these dos and don'ts to ensure you're whitening your teeth safely.

Do: Consult with your dentist before using an over-the-counter bleaching product.

For the majority of patients, over-the-counter (OTC) bleaching products are safe to use, as long as you follow the instructions on the label. But there are some patients for whom these products cause problems like tooth pain and sensitivity. Usually, this happens if your enamel is already weakened or if you have untreated cavities. So, instead of crossing your fingers and hoping you're not one of the few who suffers after using an OTC whitening gel or whitening strip, follow the American Dental Association's advice and check with your dentist first. They can examine your enamel and confirm whether your teeth are healthy enough to use these whitening products safely.

Do: Use one whitening product at a time.

Once your dentist gives you the go-ahead on using whitening products, make sure you stick to just one at a time. For instance, you don't want to use whitening strips, paint-on whitening gel, and whitening toothpaste all within a few days. Choose a method you feel comfortable with, and stick with it for the period of time recommended on the label. If it's not working, then switch to a different product or talk to your dentist about more advanced, in-office whitening treatments. But don't start using a whitening mouthwash on top of a gel on top of whitening strips because one method alone was not effective.

Don't: Create your own whitening products.

You've probably seen articles online teaching you how to make your own peroxide-based tooth whitening solution or how to make your own whitening toothpaste. While some of these recipes may well be effective and safe, there's really no way to verify this. These homemade concoctions have not been tested and approved by the ADA. They may cause problems down the road -- there's really no way to know. You don't want to find out that your favorite natural health blogger was wrong when your teeth start screaming with pain at 2 am, so stick with ADA-recommended products unless your dentist tells you otherwise.

Don't: Have your teeth whitened at a kiosk in the mall.

Those whitening shops in the mall may look official, but they're not actually manned by dentists or even dental hygienists. News outlets have investigated and have found that they basically offer the same whitening products you can purchase for over-the-counter use -- not the stronger products your dentist is licensed to use. And since the employees in the mall whitening kiosks do not have dental degrees, they can't tell whether your teeth are healthy enough for treatment. If you have weak enamel or some other condition that would make you a poor candidate for whitening and undergo treatment at the mall, you could be opening yourself up to long-term side effects like tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, and advanced tooth decay.

Tooth whitening products can be excellent for helping you achieve a more attractive smile. Follow the guidelines above, and your teeth will stay healthy -- as well as white. For more information, talk to a cosmetic dentist at a dental office like Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates.