LinkedIn headshots, family reunions, graduation ceremonies, you name it. These days, there are plenty of reasons why you might want a whiter smile!
The concept of teeth whitening, however, can be tricky to navigate. Is it true that berries can whiten your teeth? Are at-home products the same as professional products? And perhaps the most important question of all... is teeth whitening even safe?
As a highly skilled dentist who specializes in cosmetic dentistry, Dr. Yasmin Vakilian certainly knows a thing or two about achieving a whiter smile. And when you visit her at HealthOne Dental, your safety is always the top priority! We sat down with Dr. Vakilian to learn more about professional teeth whitening and how safe it really is.
Teeth whitening at home
There are lots of different options when it comes to whitening your teeth. You can use store-bought products like whitening gels, strips, and rinses, or professional products that you get from a dentist.
Most people assume that achieving a better smile is as easy as picking up a whitening kit from the drug store. But according to Dr. Vakilian, this can do more harm than good.
That’s because it’s easy to overuse or misuse these types of products. When used incorrectly, experts suggest that bleaching products can cause enamel damage, gum irritation, and sensitive teeth.
The Canadian Dental Association also points out that although surface whiteners like whitening toothpaste can help lighten the appearance of surface stains, they aren't going to accomplish much else. They are not an effective substitute for a proper cleaning or a professional teeth whitening treatment.
This is why the safest and most effective option if you want a whiter smile is to visit the professionals. They’ll provide you with high-quality products that you can use from the comfort of your home.
Best teeth whitening products
So why exactly is visiting a professional better than doing it yourself? First and foremost, a dentist will provide you with the best teeth whitening products available.
“Professional whitening is a lot stronger and more effective than over-the-counter gels,” Dr. Vakilian explains, “And drug stores are not allowed to sell the same products as our offices. We provide our patients with stronger and more efficient whitening gels than you would buy in a store or online.”
Specifically, at HealthOne, our teeth whitening gel contains 35% carbamide peroxide. It's completely safe when used as directed and strong enough to provide you with noticeable results.
Teeth whitening kit
Now that you understand why the professional route is better, let’s take a look at how exactly the magic happens!
The first step if you’re interested in teeth whitening is to have an initial consultation with a dentist. Ideally, we like to perform a dental examination before prescribing your whitening products to make sure your teeth are healthy.
Next, we'll take a mould of your teeth and use it to create a customized tray. You’ll pick up this tray and two syringes of whitening gel at a later appointment. Typically, the two syringes will last up to a year or two. Once you’ve run out, you can purchase a new tube of gel for $30.
“Our teeth whitening kit works better than over-the-counter because it’s stronger and more effective. The custom-fitted tray makes the whitening gel adhere to the teeth much better than just using, for example, whitening strips that only cover your front four teeth and may not get into the crevices,” Dr. Vakilian explains.
How to whiten teeth
To whiten your teeth using your new at-home kit, you’ll place a small amount of whitening gel in the tray and wear it for 10 to 15 minutes. Dr. Vakilian recommends doing this every day for no longer than two weeks total.
Once the two weeks are up, you should wait a few months before using your products again. This works out perfectly because most people's results last for 2-6 months!
Research even suggests that this professional route is the best way to go. A study from the Probe Scienfici Journal states that people should "be provided with custom-fitted bleaching trays with vicious bleaching gel and be advised to follow instructions very carefully."
Patients love the at-home method because it gives them freedom and flexibility. If you have a special event coming up like graduation or a wedding, for instance, you can start your at-home whitening a few weeks beforehand. 10-15 minutes a day is all it takes — you’ll be picture-ready in no time!
Does teeth whitening make your teeth more sensitive?
Now that you understand how professional teeth whitening works and why it’s better than store-bought products, one big question still remains: is it safe?
This is a common concern that many people have because of how much misinformation is out there. You might be worried that whitening your teeth will make them more sensitive, for example. But according to Dr. Vakilian, this is uncommon.
“Current research supports that tooth bleaching is generally safe, and an effective method to improve the aesthetics of the teeth,” she confirms. “This is of course when undertaken by a dentist’s supervision and according to the manufacturer’s directions, which unfortunately is not always the case. When the products are not used as directed, then tooth sensitivity and soft tissue irritation are the most common negative effects. These problems usually resolve on their own and are very short term.”
This is why you should always follow the instructions given by your dentist. When you use your at-home teeth whitening kit as directed, sensitivity should not become an issue.
Does teeth whitening Damage Enamel?
The second thing people tend to worry about is if the procedure will damage their enamel.
It's a valid concern because the enamel is important — it protects your teeth from daily wear and tear, extreme temperatures, and even contact with chemicals. There are a lot of things that can cause enamel to erode such as sugary drinks, acid reflux disease (GERD), and a diet high in sugar and starches. But according to Dr. Vakilian, teeth whitening isn’t on the list.
“In terms of enamel damage [from teeth whitening], experts say this is not true,” she says. “The whitening agents used by the dentist or even the ones in the office have very special safety certifications that come with them. That’s why an initial consultation with the dentist is crucial to determine whether a patient is a good candidate. If a patient naturally has very thin or de-mineralized enamel, their teeth should not be whitened. So – does it damage the enamel? No. Is everyone the right candidate? No. And that should be determined by the dentist.”
As we mentioned, perhaps the most important step of whitening your teeth happens before the actual procedure. We recommend getting a dental examination before whitening to make sure you’re a good candidate for the procedure.
If you have a lot of plaque and calculus on your teeth, for example, a dentist might recommend that you book a hygiene appointment before you start whitening. Or if you plan on straightening your teeth in the near future, they might recommend that you complete your orthodontic treatments first.
It isn’t required that you get an exam before whitening, but we do highly recommend it to make your journey as effective as possible.
Teeth Whitening Toronto
At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel confident in their smile. But generic whitening strips, gels, and toothpastes will only get you so far.
When you visit a professional for teeth whitening treatment, you can feel confident that you’re choosing the best method possible. Not only is the whitening gel from a dentist 100% safe, it’s also more effective and produces better results.
“It's individual, it’s custom-built, and it’s overlooked by professionals and dentists. We’re always here for our patients if there are any issues,” Dr. Vakilian concludes.
Begin your own teeth whitening transformation at our dental clinic in downtown Toronto! Dr. Vakilian and the rest of our team would love to help you start your journey.