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Getting those pearly whites even whiter: it’s one of the most common cosmetic procedures I get requests about from patients. But before you decide to take the great white plunge and taken on tooth whitening, it’s important to arm yourself with the right knowledge to make an informed decision.

Here are some key things to know before you whiten your teeth:

1. Start with healthy teeth

Tooth decay, gum disease, sensitivity—these are just some of the dental issues that might complicate or create problems for you if you don’t resolve them before your whiten. That’s why I typically recommended a dental examination to address any existing dental issues which should be treated first.

2. Learn what you want

There is a wide range of teeth whitening options available, such as in-office professional whitening, take-home whitening kits provided by your dentist, or over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products. Each method has its own considerations in terms of effectiveness, safety, and potential side effects.

3. Get a treatment plan

Many factors determine the most effective treatment options for whitening—the profile, type and severity of teeth stains being just a few examples. Together, we can evaluate your teeth and find the most appropriate whitening method for you.

4. It might get (temporarily) sensitive 

Teeth whitening can cause temporary tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold temperatures. If you already have sensitive teeth, it’s important to raise this with me before taking on a whitening procedure so I can guide you through ways you can minimize sensitivity or come up with alternative whitening options.

5. Don’t forget about existing restorations

Teeth whitening treatments primarily affect natural tooth enamel and may not have the same effect on dental restorations such as dental fillings, crowns, or veneers. We can look at how teeth whitening may impact your existing dental work and whether adjustments or replacements may be necessary to match your new whitened tooth shade.

6. Understand the risks

While teeth whitening is generally considered safe, it can have potential side effects such as tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, or uneven whitening. It’s important to follow the instructions provided by your dentist or the whitening product manufacturer to minimize risks and achieve the best results.

7. Prepare to address the fade

Whitening is not a permanent solution, and the results may fade over time. The duration of whitening treatment and maintenance requirements will vary based on the treatment option we choose. I can guide you through the best ways to maintain the whiteness of your teeth and will recommend touch-up treatments if desired.

Tooth whitening can offer you a brighter smile and is a rewarding procedure for many patients! If you do decide to embark on your own whitening journey, I can provide personalized advice based on your specific oral health needs and help you make an informed decision about teeth whitening.