If you want to whiten your teeth, the best place to start is with a healthy mouth. Tooth decay, sensitive or cracked teeth, infections or periodontal (gum) problems should be diagnosed and treated before any teeth whitening procedure. Otherwise, you could experience discomfort. The teeth whitening process may aggravate existing problems, or the teeth whitening process simply may not be right for you.
BEGIN WITH DENTAL CHECKUP
Rather than heading to the local cosmetic counter or shopping mall in search of teeth whiteners, start with a dental checkup. Your dentist can evaluate, diagnose and treat any pressing oral health conditions and advise you about different options to safely and effectively whiten your teeth. Your dentist also can determine whether teeth whitening will work for you. When the dentist diagnoses the cause of the discoloration—injury, stains from food or tobacco, antibiotic treatment as a child or other causes—a suitable teeth-whitening method or product can be selected. The diagnosis is important; otherwise, you could be wasting time and money because teeth whitening treatments work only on natural tooth enamel, not on dental crowns, dental veneers, dental bonding materials or tooth-colored fillings.
Many teeth whiteners are advertised on Web sites, television infomercials and the radio, as well as in magazines and newspapers. The American Dental Association (ADA) is concerned about the safety of teeth whitening chemicals and procedures that are performed without the care or supervision of a licensed dentist. The ADA recommends that if you choose to have your teeth whitened or use a bleaching product, you should do so only after consulting with a dentist. If the chemicals used to whiten teeth are not applied properly, they could damage soft and hard tissues in the mouth.