Over-the-counter teeth whitening agents make a bright smile an achievable accomplishment for the everyday shopper. However, these treatments are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and do not carry the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. What are the benefits and drawbacks to purchasing over-the-counter teeth whitening products?
Why Do Teeth Yellow?
One of the most common causes of yellowing teeth is the consumption of dark, staining liquids such as soda, coffee or wine. Tobacco use, poor dental health and grinding of the teeth can all contribute to additional darkening or cracking of the enamel. The degree to which an individual’s teeth change color can be linked to genetics, and every person may experience yellowing to a different degree or not at all.
A bright white smile may affect a person’s relationships and work success. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96 percent of adults believe a white smile makes an individual more romantically attractive. Almost three quarters of those polled believe an uninviting smile can stall an individual’s career advancement.
One of the main reasons over-the-counter methods have gained popularity and turned teeth whitening into a common practice is the affordability. A package of teeth-whitening strips can be had for less than $50, but the results may be far less effective than more comprehensive whitening options.
Teeth-whitening strips work the best with straight teeth. If the teeth are crooked or slanted, the gel may not reach certain sections of the enamel, leaving the individual with uneven white patches. Because the product is not prescribed directly to an individual, the final results may not satisfy them and they may experience extreme tooth discomfort and sensitivity during use. It also may take two or more weeks to complete the treatment and notice a marked difference. The whitening effect may only last from a few months to one year.
The FDA does not regulate teeth-whitening packages because they are classified as a cosmetic product. The ADA does not endorse unsupervised whitening; it recommends getting a professional dentist’s opinion beforehand.
Professional Teeth Whitening
A cosmetic dental consultation involves an examination of the current enamel stains and the formation of a plan on how to best improve the overall bright appearance. An experienced dentist can match the strength of the whitening products to the needs of your teeth.
Using custom-fitted trays, the bleach molds to the current shape of your teeth and reaches crevices not possible with an over-the-counter method. In addition, gum protection lessens mouth irritation and sensitivity, since the gel is applied to the teeth only. The treatment may only take less than two hours and is completed in-office under the supervision of a professional. Though follow-up, at-home maintenance may be required, the patient will have the full support and guidance of the dentist if pain or sensitivity arises. The individual may notice a difference immediately, with results lasting for a minimum of one year.
Even though a professional treatment exceeds the cost of over-the-counter teeth whitening, the individualized approach may deliver higher satisfaction and brighter results. Contact Oak Hills Dentistry for a cosmetic dentistry consultation today, and avoid over-the-counter teeth whitening products.