Want Whiter Teeth? Avoid These 3 Mistakes

There's nothing wrong with wanting whiter, brighter teeth. Your smile is often the first thing that people notice about you, and it's what they remember later. A great smile can improve your chances of impressing the hiring manager at a job interview or dazzling your next blind date. But how do you go about getting those white teeth? You don't want to make a mistake that will lead to discomfort or tooth problems. Take a look at some tooth whitening mistakes to avoid, and find out how you can get a smile that sparkles.

Using Whitening Toothpaste Every Time You Brush

If your teeth are just mildly discolored, your first thought may be to simply grab a tube of whitening toothpaste the next time you visit the drugstore. Whitening toothpastes aren't strong enough to make a dramatic difference to the color of your teeth, but not everyone needs a dramatic difference, and if you only want to make your smile a little brighter, whitening toothpaste can help.

Whitening toothpastes may contain a small amount of peroxide, but it's not enough to irritate your gums or damage your tooth enamel. However, whitening toothpastes sometimes also contain abrasive materials, like silica or baking soda. These abrasives are effective at scrubbing light surface stains off of the enamel. However, if you use them too often or for too long, they can begin to cause minor damage to your tooth enamel. This can make your teeth sensitive and make them more susceptible to decay.

Check the whitening toothpaste for its Relative Dentin Abrasiveness (RDA) level – this is a number that describes how abrasive the toothpaste is. An RDA level between zero and 70 is only mildly abrasive and is fine for daily use. An RDA level between 70 and 100 is moderately abrasive, and between 100 and 150, or higher, is very abrasive. If you choose a toothpaste with a high RDA level, you should definitely be alternating with a less-abrasive fluoridated toothpaste that will help protect your tooth enamel.

Using Kiosk Whitening Services

You may have noticed that tooth whitening services aren't just confined to the dentist's office. You may notice tooth whitening kiosks popping up in your local mall, or in a spa that you visit. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) has concerns about the safety of these kinds of services, which are usually offered by non-dentists.

Non-dentists offering tooth whitening treatments are not trained to examine your teeth and gums to find out if you have any dental condition that should preclude whitening treatments the way that your dentist would. In some states, non-dentists applying whitening treatments could be considered to be practicing dentistry without a license, so they may direct customers to apply the treatments themselves, the way you might apply an over-the-counter tooth whitening treatment. However, if the whitening agent they use is stronger than what you could buy over the counter, you're at increased risk of tooth damage if you or a non-dentist applies the whitening solution. There's also the possibility that the kiosk or salon employees don't have the necessary equipment to sterilize or disinfect tooth whitening equipment. If you want your teeth whitened professionally, you're better off getting the treatment from an actual dentist.

Not Visiting Your Dentist First

Even if you're just planning on picking up whitening strips that you apply yourself from the nearest drug store, you should really plan a visit to your dentist before you begin whitening your teeth. For one thing, you'll get the best results, even from an over-the-counter whitening kit, just after your teeth have been cleaned by your dentist. This is when your tooth's surface is the cleanest, which will make the whitener more effective.

Furthermore, you want to know if you have any conditions, like gingivitis or a small cavity, that could make tooth whitening a bad idea. Your dentist can also recommend the type of dental whitening product that is likely to provide the results that you want. And of course, if you want to see results quickly, or you want a dramatic change, you probably aren't going to get the results you want from whitening toothpaste or an over-the-counter kit – for that, you need prescription-strength whitening trays or in-office whitening treatments, like laser whitening.

A dentist is the best resource for finding out more information about safely and effectively whitening your teeth. Make an appointment with an experienced cosmetic dentist at a location like Willowdaile Family Dentistry in your area for personalized advice.