Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

We all want a sparkling, white smile. In fact, many people spend hundreds of dollars a year in search of the perfect shade of white for their teeth. You can get toothpaste, paints, gels, strips, and even light treatments to take the ugly stains off your teeth. With all the options available today, you have to wonder if they’re safe. Many will advocate that whitening ruins the enamel and root of the tooth and leaves it damaged and vulnerable, but what really is the truth?

Most tray based whitening gel systems on the market today have a 10 percent carbamide peroxide solution as their active ingredient. Many studies have been conducted and they’ve shown that, at these concentrations, there is no damage to the enamel of the tooth. You may want to consider using a fluoride toothpaste if you’re concerned about enamel damage. This will help strengthen teeth and repair any possible damage. A disadvantage of these methods is that, because they use lower, safer levels of chemicals; they’re not as effective at whitening teeth as the products a dentist uses. They are; however, a lot cheaper.

There are other home based systems for teeth whitening including toothpastes, strips, and paints. These use the same or less abrasive materials than gel trays, so they are safe to use without damaging enamel. Remember that the less whitening solution a product has, the less effective it will be.

Dentist offices use the same type of solution as over the counter methods; however, they tend to offer higher concentrations so the whitening is more effective. Studies have shown that these concentrations may harm tooth enamel. Most of these treatments not contain fluoride or are offered with a fluoride treatment to strengthen enamel and reverse or prevent the damage from the whitening agent. Because of the safety issues, you should always express you concerns to the dentist and ask what options are available to protect your precious smile.

There has been some concern raised that these types of treatments may be considered carcinogens because they break down into free radicals. They also have suggested that teeth whitening may cause root damage to teeth. There have been extensive research studies and there is no evidence to support either of these claims

The problem with many whitening products, even very weak ones such as toothpastes, is that they can cause a problem for people with sensitive teeth. The treatments tend to worsen the level of sensitivity to hot and cold. If you have sensitive teeth, you should discuss treatment options with your dentist. They may be able to suggest whitening treatments that aren’t as harsh on sensitive teeth. You may experience pain when using at-home whitening trays, or gum pain after treatment, even if you don’t have sensitive teeth. If this occurs, you should talk to your doctor.

The bottom line is, as long as you use the treatments properly and follow your dentist’s instructions, teeth whitening is a safe and easy way to brighten up your smile.

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