Teeth whitening has become one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures today and for good reason. For millions of Americans, teeth whitening has proven to be a safe and effective cosmetic dental procedure that dramatically improves and brightens the patient’s smile. Great results can be achieved in a single visit to the dentist. The procedure takes less than an hour, it is comfortable and painless, and is relatively inexpensive.
With all the benefits of teeth whitening, what’s not to like? Well, like most things in life, there are a few drawbacks and things you should know before getting your teeth whitened. First, although the vast majority of patients experience few if any side effects, there have been some reports of gum and/or lip irritation from the whitening agent.
One advantage to having professional teeth whitening done at your dentist instead of doing it yourself is that your dentist can better protect your gums and lips. If you are doing it yourself with an over-the counter kit, be careful avoid getting the whitening gel on your lips and gums.
Another problem reported by some patients is increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold. This usually goes away in a few days but can persist in a small number of patients. Consult your dentist if teeth whitening sensitivity persists.
The agent used to whiten teeth only works on natural tooth enamel. It will not change the color of any tooth colored dental restorations such as caps, composite (tooth colored) fillings, or dental bonding. If you have any of these restorations, talk to your dentist about a comprehensive plan for teeth whitening.
Finally, the whitening effect lasts a long time, but it is usually not permanent. You may need a touch up after six months to a year. Good oral hygiene habits and avoiding coffee, tea, and colored soft drinks will help your teeth stay whiter and brighter.
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