Teeth Whitening: Is It for You?

a woman's smile shows off her whitened teeth

White teeth are an important feature to have in our society—so much so that many people are willing to use numerous products and professional treatments to achieve a pearly white smile. While there’s no doubt these methods can be effective, they’re not necessarily for everyone. If you’ve been thinking about having your teeth whitened, read on to see if it’s the right choice for you.

You should consider teeth whitening if:

1.You have approval from your dentist.

Even though there are a number of over-the-counter teeth whitening products available, you shouldn’t begin any sort of regimen without consulting with your dentist. You obviously won’t be able to undergo professional teeth whitening without prior approval from the dentist performing the procedure.

2.Your teeth are otherwise healthy.

Teeth whitening is strictly a cosmetic procedure, which means it doesn’t improve their overall health. In fact, it should only be undertaken if your teeth are relatively healthy to begin with. The process can cause some gum irritation and tooth sensitivity, and while these are typically mild, if you’ve already got problems, they may make them worse.

3.You’ve tried other methods.

There are some steps you can take to help whiten your teeth that don’t involve seeing a specialist or buying over-the-counter products. These include brushing regularly and avoiding things that are likely to cause stains, such as coffee and sugary foods. If these measures aren’t giving you the results you want, it may be time to try teeth whitening.

You should avoid teeth whitening if:

1.You have dentures or other dental implants.

While it is technically possible to whiten veneers, dentures, and crowns, the results are often unpredictable and uneven. The materials these products are made of don’t react to the process in the same way that natural teeth do, so it’s best to avoid whitening treatments if you have any that are prominently visible.

2.You don’t have the money to spend on them.

Professional whitening can easily exceed $1000, and since it’s technically a cosmetic procedure, most insurance companies won’t cover it in their plans. Choosing over-the-counter whitening strips or trays can initially be an affordable option, but since their results don’t last as long as a professional whitening, you’ll find yourself spending money more frequently on them.

3.You have unrealistic expectations.

Teeth whitening, especially when done with over-the-counter products, probably isn’t going to provide you with dazzlingly white teeth. Many people expect the process to end with a smile that’s worthy of a Hollywood starlet, but there are limitations to what it can do—especially if you’re starting out with teeth that are severely stained. Overusing whitening products in an attempt to get better results will not only be ineffective, it could also cause severe enamel damage.