With so many teeth whitening treatments available, there seems to be an option that almost everyone could be comfortable with, regardless of whether you prefer professional dental whitening, over-the-counter treatments, or homemade remedies. But just as not all treatments are created equal with regard to efficacy, not all whitening treatments or regimens are equally safe. While “homemade” treatments or over-the-counter options might seem less intense than the in-office bleaching you can get at the dentist, these treatments can actually cause more harm than you might imagine if used improperly or too often.
No matter which whitening option you choose, you should always talk with your dentist first. They know your teeth and will be able to recommend the safest and most effective options for your specific needs. In-office dental whitening is described as “bleaching” and usually uses carbamide peroxide, which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, generally considered to be a safe whitening agent. This gives noticeable results in one treatment, and usually recurs annually or twice per year (via Healthline). The dentist can also provide whitening systems for you to use at home, or can recommend over-the-counter or homemade options that are best for you. But when you are using at-home methods, it’s important not to overdo it.
Why you shouldn't whiten your teeth daily
The most common ingredient in teeth whitening products is peroxide, and while it is considered “safe,” overusing these products can have many unwanted effects. According to Arkansas Family Dental, overuse can cause your teeth to appear translucent (see-through) rather than white, especially around the edges, which is irreversible. Too much peroxide can also wear down your enamel, weaken teeth, irritate your gums and mouth, and also cause increased sensitivity (via WebMD). Yikes! To make sure you aren’t overdoing it, check with your dentist and read all packaging instructions carefully.
There are also homemade whitening products that don’t contain peroxide that can be harmful if overused. Charcoal is a popular ingredient in whitening recipes, and while it can remove surface stains, that same mildly abrasive effect can also be harmful to your teeth if you use it every day. According to Healthline, using charcoal on your teeth daily will wear down your enamel. It also hasn’t been sufficiently studied for its effects on dental solutions, such as veneers, bridges, crowns, and white fillings.
So how often should you whiten your teeth? According to RealSelf, professional and at-home treatments should last individuals up to a year. When referring to at-home kits, it means to use up the kit (usually about ten days to two weeks in duration), and then don’t repeat the process again until the following year — while at the same time developing good habits to prolong results. It’s also a good idea to check with your dentist first!
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