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6 Teeth Whitening Mistakes You Must Avoid

 

These days, teeth whitening is more popular—and accessible—than ever. Not only do most dental practices offer professional whitening, but many stores now sell at-home teeth whitening kits that you can use on your own time.

We asked dentists to share the top teeth whitening mistakes they often see, and how you can avoid them.

 

1. Treating it like a one-time thing

Like brushing your teeth, teeth whitening must be implemented regularly in order to maintain the whitest smile. “If you recently had a whitening done, you likely have obtained the ‘whitest-white’ possible,” says Steven Cordoves, DDS, cosmetic dentist and other co-founder of Core Smiles. “However, if you consume a lot of red wine, coffee, tea, and/or tobacco on a regular basis, you may need to whiten more often. The bottom line is to trust your dental professional’s advice; he or she knows your teeth and how often you should be whitening them.”

 

2. Eating acidic fruits to whiten teeth

According to Michael Gulizio, DMD, MS, cosmetic dentist and co-founder of Core Smiles, this is a “really, really bad idea.” “Acidic fruits have a low pH, which means that they are very effective in dissolving dental enamel,” he says. “Once enamel has been lost, it won’t grow back. The erosive process that dissolves tooth enamel can cause tooth sensitivity, dental cavity, and ultimately gum tissue recession.”

 

3. Not brushing or flossing beforehand

 

4. Using one-size-fits-all whitening trays

As tempting as it is to buy the over-the-counter trays, custom-made bleaching trays work best, says Berg. “Everyone’s mouth is different. Using a tray that isn’t custom to your mouth can cause leakage of the whitening product chemicals, which can lead to tooth damage and gum irritation. Additionally, saliva can deactivate the whitening properties in the peroxide.”

Unfortunately, the whitening trays sold in stores and online are usually one-size-fits-all, which can make teeth whitening unsafe and unpredictable. It’s best to go to a professional when it comes to whitening trays; doing this will avoid any unpleasant repercussions of using ill-fitting trays.

 

5. Overusing whitening strips

Whitening strips are a simple and inexpensive way to brighten your smile, but just like whitening toothpaste, prolonged usage isn’t good for your pearly whites. The same goes for leaving the strips on longer than recommended. According to Berg, prolonged usage can hurt your gums, increase tooth sensitivity, and cause bright splotches to appear. Always make sure to follow the directions that come with your whitening strips.

 

6. Using whitening toothpaste daily

Over-the-counter whitening toothpaste provides an almost instant brighter smile, but while the immediate result is nice, it may also cause some damage when used for long periods, according to Jennifer Berg, RDH, a dental hygienist in Massachusetts. “This type of toothpaste, including charcoal toothpastes, usually contains abrasives to create that polished effect,” explains Berg. Continued use of abrasive toothpaste can remove tooth enamel and cause gum recession, exposing the root surface of the tooth and leading to painful tooth wear. Instead, Berg recommends using a multi-purpose toothpaste with fluoride on a daily basis.

 

 

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