Thinking of whitening your teeth? Talk to your dentist first.

Feel like your pearly whites aren’t so white? So many products claim to whiten teeth, but there may be more than meets the eye, particularly when it comes to store-bought whitening products.


Talk to your dentist

If you would like to try an at-home, teeth-whitening product, see your dentist first. Why? Because you want to first rule out dental problems such as periodontal (gum) disease or tooth decay, sometimes even on the teeth that you are trying to whiten. Whitening your teeth won’t fix those problems and can even aggravate them. Also, your dentist can give you advice on how the different products work and what might work best for your situation.


Do tooth whiteners work?

Yes, most tooth whitening products work to some degree. It’s important to know which will perform best for you and what to expect. Your dentist can answer questions like how long will it take, how much whiter can you make them, what are the adverse effects like gum irritation or tooth sensitivity, how long will it last, and what else you can do to keep your smile bright.


Tooth whiteners won’t work on all teeth. They won’t whiten:

  • Crowns and fillings
  • Antibiotic-stained teeth
  • Gray teeth, which do not respond to bleaching as well as yellow and brown teeth


What are my teeth whitening options?

Some options your dentist may suggest:

  • Custom trays that fit perfectly in your mouth and you can use them at home. They usually provide stronger bleaching agents that you won’t get in over-the-counter tooth whiteners.
  • In-office, tooth-whitening treatment that can be done in a single office visit, using the most powerful bleaching solution.
  • Over-the-counter products, which will take longer and require some dedication on your part.


Tooth whitening can cause tooth and gum sensitivity in some people, so call your dentist if you experience this side effect.

Your dentist can explain all your options and help you find one that’s right for you.


“Whitening.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association.

“Tooth Whitening Systems.” American Dental Hygienists’ Association.