Whitening your teeth is one of the simplest ways to drastically improve your smile. It's also one of the more budget-friendly options compared to extensive orthodontic work and other drastic smile-altering improvements, such as veneers. All whitening products are not created equal, however, and not every person is a good candidate for whitening. A discussion with your dentist can help you decide what method is best for you.

Ensuring You Have Realistic Goals

Discuss the current state of your teeth and where you hope to get them with your dentist to help you determine which whitening method is most likely to result in your desired outcome. While nearly all whitening products (whether over-the-counter or dentist-provided) contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, the concentration levels can vary drastically.

Dentist-provided systems and in-office whitening procedures give the most pronounced results in the least amount of time, and they're more appropriate for deep stains as well. A 2015 survey conducted by the National Institute of Teeth Whitening found that 82 percent of patients who received in-office whitening treatments noticed a considerable difference in their smiles compared to 63.8 percent who reported the same from at-home whitening systems.

Addressing Dental Concerns for Safe Whitening

Discuss any dental issues, particularly teeth and gum sensitivity, with your dentist to determine if whitening is a good choice for you. Hydrogen and carbamide peroxide work by seeping down into the deep layers of enamel to break up stains below the surface, which can result in sensitivity and pain.

While most side-effects from whitening products aren't severe or permanent, it's best to choose products with lower concentrations of the active ingredients if you're prone to sensitivity. Some products contain ingredients (such as potassium nitrate or fluoride) meant to help reduce sensitivity as well.

Creating a Plan for Non-Natural Teeth

Because most teeth whitening ingredients work by penetrating the enamel of natural teeth, they won't work well on crowns, veneers, or large fillings. That doesn't mean you're out of options if you need to include them in your whitening plan. Your dentist can help you address discoloration concerns on non-natural teeth by replacing old dental work or polishing them to match more closely with your natural teeth once those have been whitened.

By forming an action plan with the help of your dentist, you'll be confident in your chosen teeth-whitening regimen and minimize the risk of undesirable side effects. Talk to a local dental clinic, such as Suncoast Dental Center, about your whitening wishes at your next appointment or call to see if you can set up an appointment to discuss cosmetic dentistry options.