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How to Safely Use a Tooth Whitening Gel at Home

Brenna Stone

With the guidance of your dentist, you can safely and effectively brighten your smile at home with a tooth whitening gel. Over-the-counter gels or a gel that has been given to you by your dentist office contain bleaching ingredients to help make your teeth appear significantly lighter. Say good bye to coffee stains and yellowing teeth and hello to a revitalized smile!

Safety Concerns With Whitening Gels

According to the American Dental Association, peroxide-based bleaching agents, such as those used in common tooth whitening products like strips and gels, can cause irritation to the gums. This can happen when a gel is used with an ill-fitting tray. Tooth sensitivity can also be an issue, although both irritation and sensitivity usually stop once you are done treating your teeth. The best way to help avoid and prevent these possible side effects is to whiten under the supervision of your dentist.

Tips for Home Use

Before starting a bleaching treatment with a tooth whitening gel, see your dentist. He can make a custom tray to fit neatly with the contours of your mouth and explain how to properly use a gel. If you use an over-the-counter product, look for one with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. ADA accepted bleaching gels use a 10 percent concentration of carbamide peroxide. When used in a water-based solution, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, which is the active whitening ingredient.

Have your dentist show you how to apply the gel to your tray. Brush your teeth before applying. You only need to wear the tray for a few hours during the day or overnight. Your dentist may recommend using the mouth tray for about two weeks to get whiter teeth. When you take off your mouth piece, be sure not to swallow any gel. Gently remove any residue that may be left on your teeth or gums with a cloth, a clean finger, or a soft toothbrush, and then rinse your mouth well.

Using a whitening gel is a great way to make your smile visibly brighter, because you are actually changing the color of your teeth through bleaching. To help maintain a whiter smile, floss daily and brush twice a day with a whitening toothpaste like Colgate Optic White. Keep up your regular dental appointments; the polishing action of a professional cleaning treatment is essential for fighting surface stains. It is also important to have your dentist monitor your oral health, especially if you are considering whitening at home.

Learn more about tooth whitening options in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: iStockphoto/Khorzhevska

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