What are the least damaging ways to whiten your teeth?

The need for having perfectly white teeth has become increasingly popular over the years. 

Ignited by a flood of celebrity endorsed teeth whitening products across social media platforms, it soon became a war between over-the-counter brands vs online retailers.

What was truly alarming was the amount of Australian consumers (over 50%) who were not aware of the risks pertained to DIY teeth whitening kits. 

How does teeth whitening work?

These days, there are many teeth whitening solutions available and typically fall into 3 categories: pharmacy products, in-dentist clinic applied, and take home packages supplied by a dentist.

The active ingredient used in teeth whitening products is hydrogen peroxide. Generally, the more active ingredients the product contains, the more effective it will be and will dictate how long the product is to be applied for. 

Leaving teeth whitening products on longer than the recommended time frame, can incur damage to teeth and gums, tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and gum irritation.

Least damaging ways to whiten your teeth

Teeth whitening is not for everyone, especially for those who may have receding gums, whitening may irritate these areas. Teeth whitening also does not work on colour of fillings, crowns, implants, veneers, and certain stains.

The three most common methods of teeth whitening are:

In-dentist

This particular method of teeth whitening is done by your dentist at the clinic and is far stronger and more effective than whitening toothpastes or over-the-counter DIY kits. The products used contain more hydrogen peroxide than most and can change the colour of your teeth a lot faster than other methods. Some products, such as Pola White neutral pH formula, contain features that actively protect your tooth and gums during the procedure.

Based on your desired whitening effect, the strength and length of product to be applied will vary. Most procedures may take up to 1 hour to complete, with the addition of a light or laser used and a regular scale and clean prior the treatment if you have some plaque buildup. Teeth whitening conducted by a health professional is one of the safest and least damaging methods of teeth whitening.

Take home kits (supplied by dentists)

Take home kits are the next least damaging method of teeth whitening and is typically applied to your teeth using trays, strips, or as a brush. Most dentists will make a custom whitening tray for both your upper and lower teeth, whereby a gel is placed in the trays and users will wear them for short periods during the day or overnight. 

Dentist will instruct users how long to use them for and how frequent, going outside of recommended instructions may result in gum and teeth irritation or sensitivity.

Pharmacy teeth whitening products

Most DIY teeth whitening kits contain less of the active ingredient and are relatively safe to use, providing consumers are following the labelled instructions. Whitening toothpastes are the gentlest of the whitening options and work by polishing rather than chemicals and don’t have many side effects. 

They are by far the least damaging option of teeth whitening, but are not as effective as in-dental methods. 

Teeth-staining foods to avoid

Despite all your best efforts to whiten your teeth, there are some common culprits responsible for staining your teeth that you may not even realise.

Foods to avoid

  • Deeply coloured sauces such as soy, curry, tomato, and pasta sauce
  • Fruits that are vibrant in colour, including blueberries, blackberries, cherries, pomegranates
  • Lollies that change the colour of your mouth
  • Icy poles or ice creams that change the colour of your mouth

Drinks to avoid

  • Coffee and tea are the biggest culprit for stained teeth
  • Herbal teas may also wear away the outer layer of your teeth
  • Sports, energy, or high sugary drinks that are vibrant in colour can stain your teeth and erode the enamel. Can also cause plaque buildup.
  • Red wine is dark, rich in colour and acidic and will discolour your teeth
  • White wine is just as potent, with higher acidic levels

Keep your teeth whiter for longer

If you have recently whitened your teeth, they are prone to staining more easily. To keep your teeth looking whiter for longer, avoid smoking and stain causing foods for several days after treatment. It’s important to remember that your teeth will eventually return to their original shade over time, but by steering away from stain causing elements, and practicing good oral hygiene, your teeth may stay whiter for longer.

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