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Teeth whitening: What you need to know before opting for the procedure

Teeth whitening page uploadHave you always wanted those shiny, pearly whites you see on the silver screen? You've probably already considered or are talking to your dentist about teeth whitening or dental bleaching. However, before you opt for it, here are some points you need to think about:

1. Reduce or eliminate the cause of discoloration of teeth.
- Certain stains caused by foods or drink, poor dental hygiene etc are usually taken care of by a good round of scaling/professional cleaning. Discuss this with your dentist.
- If the stains are caused due to tobacco, make sure you have made up your mind about kicking the butt or stopping tobacco usage in any form before you decide to go for teeth whitening.
- Discuss with your dentist about your medical history and any medications that were prescribed to you for a prolonged period. Some of them may be responsible for the discoloration of your teeth.
- If you have any large amalgam restorations (silver fillings), they can cast a greyish black tinge to your teeth. Your dentist might advice you to replace the filling with a more cosmetic alternative.

2. Tooth whitening is not a one-time procedure: You may need more than a sitting to get the desired results. Even after multiple sittings, the effects of the whitening last only for a period of one to two years depending on many factors.

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3. Teeth whitening requires maintenance too: If you thought you could go back to how you treated your teeth before your teeth whitening days, you are wrong. If you choose the more popular and effective whitening procedure done by a dental surgeon at his clinic, you will be advised to avoid food and drinks which may cause stains. Irrespective of mode of whitening, either at home or in dental clinic, smoking or chewing tobacco should be avoided. Make sure you brush at least twice a day and floss regularly to maintain whiter teeth for longer.

4. Not everyone can opt for teeth whitening: You are not a candidate for the procedure if

  • You are pregnant or a lactating mother
  • You have very sensitive teeth or gums
  • You have large cavities or fillings in your teeth
  • You have receded gums and exposed roots
  • You grind your teeth and have worn enamel
  • You have any developmental anomalies of teeth
  • You currently have ulcers in your mouth

5. Dental bleaching products do not bleach dental materials used in fillings, veneers, crowns and bridges. If you are not replacing them, it is better not to opt for too drastic a shade change for your teeth. If you choose to get new dental work done, it is advisable wait for a few days until the colour of your teeth settles after the bleaching procedure.

6. Do not overdo teeth whitening: Repeating the procedure too often can erode the enamel or the outermost layer of your teeth. This makes them appear more translucent and lifeless. A redo of whitening once in six months to a year should be adequate to keep your pearlies bright and shining!

7. Beware of side effects: You could possibly have sensitive teeth and irritated gums as a side effect of using any bleaching system. But don't worry, they are usually short lived. Some dentists recommend using a toothpaste to reduce sensitivity several days before the procedure and for a few weeks afterward.

So, as you can see, getting that dazzling smile with really nice and white teeth isn't so difficult. One needs to be aware of the procedure involved, understand the pros and cons and take the right decision with the help of your dentist.

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