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Many products currently on the market promise whiter, brighter teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) says that if you are a candidate for a whitening procedure, your dentist may suggest a procedure that can be done in a dental office. Other options include at-home products, which your dentist may give you or you can purchase over the counter. But dental professionals and the ADA caution you about the incorrect use of such over-the-counter products. They are sometimes too abrasive and can damage the teeth with extended use.
The ADA describes "whitening" as any process that will make teeth appear whiter, using one of two ways. A product can bleach the tooth, changing the natural tooth color. Most teeth whitening products use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
Darkening of teeth with age
Yellow or orange spotting on teeth caused by coffees, teas, berries and other foods, or smoking
Teeth with healthy tooth enamel
Gray or brown stains caused by getting too much fluoridated water (fluorosis)
Dark stains caused by smoking and brown or gray stains from certain medicines
Overly sensitive teeth
People with a gum or mouth disease (periodontal disease or oral cancer)
People with worn tooth enamel
People with tooth decay (until the decay is treated)
Use on caps, crowns, veneers, or fillings
Your dentist can recommend the best whitening option for you. Options may include:
In-office bleaching. The dentist will use a whitening product on your teeth. It usually needs one visit.
At-home bleaching products provided by your dentist. This option involves using a custom-made tray from your dentist that can be worn comfortably while you are awake or sleeping. The tray is so thin that you should even be able to talk and work while wearing it.
Over-the-counter bleaching. Recently, more over-the-counter products are available that offer simple whitening solutions. However, they may not provide the dramatic improvement that a professional treatment option offers. Talk with your dentist about which types may be best for you.
The ADA (American Dental Association) has granted its seal of approval on some teeth whitening products. Talk to your dentist about which products are most effective and safe to use.
Gum irritation and increased tooth sensitivity are the most common side effects of teeth bleaching with peroxide solutions.
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