Your dentist can help you attain a whiter smile. Professional whitening helps brighten your smile, but there a few things you need to know so you can be comfortable and maintain the whitening after the treatment is over.
1. Be Prepared for Sensitivity
Some people experience tooth sensitivity in the first few days following a whitening treatment. You can prepare for this by using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Further, avoid any foods or beverages that can trigger sensitivity. This includes hot items, like coffee and tea, as well as extremely cold foods, like ice cream and iced drinks. The sensitivity usually fades within a day or two following the treatment. Gum sensitivity can also be an issue in some people, but this will pass in a day or two as the gums heal from their exposure to the whitening gel.
2. Avoid Foods That Stain
You don't want to compromise your fresh whitening by instantly staining your teeth again. The biggest culprits for stains are tobacco products, coffee and tea, dark sodas, red wine, and some fruit juices. If you must eat these items, rinse your mouth out with water immediately following consumption, and then brush if you are able. This will cut down on the amount of staining residue that is left behind on your teeth.
3. Practice Good Hygiene
Good hygiene further reduces the chances of stains on your newly whitened teeth. Use a fluoride containing toothpaste, perhaps one formulated for whitening, to brush. Brush at least twice a day — once in the morning and again in the evening. Moving the brush in a circular motion on your teeth helps dislodge any residue that can lead to stains, as well as ensuring that the gumline is thoroughly cleaned. Follow up with flossing and a mouth rinse to ensure no food residue remains on your teeth.
4. Consider Follow-Up Treatments
Talk to your dentist about at-home follow up treatments to maintain your whitening. Some dentists will make fitted trays for you, which you can use with a whitening paste at home. These interim treatments will help maintain your whiter smile between professional whitening treatments. Your dentist may also recommend over the counter whitening products that will work well to help maintain your whiter smile between dental visits. Be warned, though: don't use over the counter treatments without your dentist's approval. Overuse of whitening products can actually erode your enamel and increase the chances of cavity development.
Contact your dentist to learn more about the professional teeth whitening options that are available to you.