Am I a good candidate for whitening?
Unless you're pregnant or nursing, almost anyone is a good candidate for whitening. If you want whiter, brighter teeth, talk to your dentist about which option he or she thinks is best for you. Depending on the color of your teeth, he or she may recommend one of the highly effective in-office procedures, or something as simple as a whitening toothpaste. You're generally NOT a good candidate for whitening if your teeth are veneers, or if you have extensive bridge, crown or other dental work, as whitening gels and bleaches do not change the color of these.
Should children be whitening their teeth?
There has been very little research done on children using whitening techniques, although most adults experience very few side effects. However, since most stains are caused by four main factors: coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco, and none of which are typically in a child's daily diet, we recommend against using whitening procedures on kids. If a child's teeth are stained, you should consult with their dentist as to what is causing the discoloration, and get a recommended course of treatment from a dental professional - don't just purchase an OTC Whitening kit as a remedy.
Why can I not whiten my teeth if I am pregnant or nursing?
The American Dental Association has not conducted any long term studies on the effects of teeth whitening on pregnant or nursing women, and therefore, it's strongly recommended you do not try it.
How do the gels/bleaches actually work?
The actual process of whitening is a very safe process that happens chemically. Most whitening procedures involve the use of a substance called Carbamide Peroxide. As this substance is broken down, it is oxygen that is actually breaking apart the stains, and restoring your teeth to their natural, unstained color.
Does everyone receive the same effects?
No, results obviously vary from person to person, and product to product. Obviously, there are some products that work better than others, and each product you have to choose from can typically boast an average degree of whitening, whether it be 1-2 shades, or 9-10 shades. Your best bet is to talk to your dentist first so that together, you can figure out what kind of results you're looking for, and pick a whitening procedure that is right for you.
How long does the whitening effects last?
Typically, your teeth will stay white for as long as 12 months. Some people boast of having white teeth years after the procedure has been performed. Most procedures will recommend a small touch-up every 4 months or so. You can avoid the foods and other substances that stained your teeth in the first place (coffee, tea, red wine, tobacco) for long lasting effects.
Are there side effects to the whitening procedure?
The most commonly complained of side effect is minor tooth sensitivity over the course of the process. This sensitivity usually ends once the treatment is complete. A few have complained of some gum discomfort or a sensitive feeling in loose fillings. If a whitening product is being overused, this can wear away at the enamel on your teeth. If you follow the instructions of your over-the-counter whitening system, or follow the direction of your dentist, side effects should be minimal.