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Is Teeth Whitening Right for Me?

We’re all guilty of it. We oversleep, chug two cups of coffee, and zoom out the door. Many of us enjoy another cup at work, and when we get home, who doesn’t like to relax with a nice glass of red wine?

Keep up this routine for several years, and before we know it, we look in the mirror one day and notice that our pearly whites aren’t so pearly anymore.

Thanks to our daily routines of teeth-staining drinks and foods, our once bright smiles have slowly but surely faded into dingy hues of gray and yellow.

Naturally, we get self-conscious and turn to an easy solution: Teeth whitening!

The Tooth Whitening Rundown

Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic procedure for those of us who want to restore a shine to our smile, but many of us don’t really understand the process.

Of course, most of us have heard about various teeth whitening options, but what separates whitening toothpaste from teeth bleaching? Can over-the-counter white strips provide the same level of results as professional treatments?

Before we can answer these questions, we must review how whitening works on our teeth.

There are actually two layers of tissue in our teeth that can be whitened:

This is the hard part. Depending on what type of discoloration your teeth have, certain teeth whitening products may or may not work for you.

Cleaning enamel

If you’re young but tend to overdo it on the coffees and wines, then your discoloration is likely limited to your surface enamel. This means that whitening methods like whitening toothpaste, rinses, gels, and stick-on white strips will help bring out the best in your smile. However, if you’re older with discolored dentin, things get a bit trickier.

Interior recoloring

If your dentin is discolored, no amount of whitening toothpaste will help. Fixing dentin discoloration can only be done through teeth bleaching: a method of whitening where peroxide-based products are applied to the teeth and absorbed into the enamel. This can be done at home, but results can be achieved much faster through professional whitening treatments.

Risks to Note

There are plenty of options out there for teeth whitening, and while treatments are safe, it’s certainly possible to overdo it. Keep these risks in mind before rushing out for treatment:

Caring for Your Teeth after Treatment

No matter what whitening routine or products you choose, it’s important to be aware of how to get the most out of your time and money! Keep in mind that whitening products will temporarily leave your teeth more susceptible to staining, so if you’re using whitening strips, gels, or anything stronger than an OTC whitening toothpaste, avoid heavily pigmented foods or beverages for a day or two. Anything that can stain a white t-shirt can potentially stain your teeth! If you simply can’t go without your usual cup of coffee, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.


If you experience sensitivity on your teeth or soft tissue (gums, tongue, etc.), stop your whitening routine immediately until the irritation subsides.

Is It Right for Me?

If you’re feeling self-conscious about your smile, it might be worth looking into teeth whitening treatments. However, always keep in mind the risks noted above. The whitening treatment that will work best for you will depend on what type of tooth discoloration you have, and over-doing it with whitening treatments can be bad for your teeth.

When in doubt, talk to Dr. Hsu or Merry before starting a whitening routine. For more immediate results, consult one of our team members regarding our in-house whitening options! We offer custom-made bleach trays that allow you to bleach your teeth at your leisure at home, as well as more advanced external and internal whitening procedures that our clinical staff carry out in office.

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