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5 Common Teeth Whitening Mistakes

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

You may know several teeth whitening options, including in-office treatment by your dentist to at-home whitening strips. But did you know some methods are neither safe nor very effective? Some at-home whitening options can cause lasting damage to your teeth if you don't use them properly. Learn about the five common whitening mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Overuse Whitening Strips

Whitening strips are an affordable, convenient way to get your teeth a bit whiter at home. Although they can effectively whiten your teeth, whitening strips can start to damage your teeth if you wear them too long and too often. Wearing whitening strips for too long increases your risk for tooth sensitivity. Ensure you follow the manufacturer's instructions and talk to your dentist if you are still experiencing discomfort or painful tooth sensitivity.

2. Using Baking Soda

You may have heard that baking soda can clean your teeth and remove surface stains, but baking soda isn't the best or most effective whitening option. If you use household baking soda, its abrasiveness can weaken parts of your enamel, increasing sensitivity. It's generally safer to use a whitening toothpaste than it is to brush with only baking soda.

3. Using Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar

Unfortunately, using lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or another acidic liquid to whiten your teeth can cause enamel erosion, putting you at an increased risk for cavities. Keep in mind the American Dental Association (ADA) listed lemons and other citrus fruits among its top nine foods that damage teeth.

4. Using Ill-Fitting Whitening Trays

One-size-fits-all teeth whitening trays sold in stores can lead to some problems. The whitening gel may leak if the tray doesn't fit your mouth, potentially irritating your gums. Also, if the whitening ingredients leak out of the tray, you may not see results! These are the reasons why getting a customized tray from your dentist is often more effective, even if it is more expensive than the over-the-counter whitening trays.

5. Using Any Product Not Designed for Teeth

You may see even more recommendations for at-home teeth whitening, using household products like hydrogen peroxide or even bleach. However, these products were not created for oral care and can lead to damage or worse. Seek out oral care products from oral care experts! The ADA lists the products they recommend with the ADA Seal.

Remember these five common mistakes as you search and speak with your dental hygienist and dentist about whitening options. Your dental professional can recommend the best whitening treatment or product for your needs to ensure you don't accidentally cause damage or tooth sensitivity. There are safe ways to do at-home teeth whitening, especially when you ask a professional.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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