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OTC Teeth Whitening Products - Are These Safe?

Aug 18, 2007
OTC or over the counter teeth whitening products are usually safe and effective when used as directed by the dentist or manufacturer. Two most common side effects may occur which are generally considered to be temporary. These side effects are sensitive teeth and gum irritation.

All common toothpastes contain gentle abrasives which help to remove surface stains and deposits on your teeth. However, whitening toothpastes have mild polishing agents to provide additional surface stain removal. These products do not contain bleaching agents.

American Dental Association (ADA) explains teeth whitening as a process of making teeth whiter by discolouration or by removing stains or by lightening the teeth color. There are two kinds of teeth whitening procedures available currently. One is at home whitening and another is an in-office teeth whitening system. At-home whitening systems can be of two types. One is by using whitening toothpastes. Another is by using peroxide based whiteners.

Peroxide based bleaching agents include whitening gels and strips. These products bleach the teeth. It means they practically change the natural color of your teeth and help to remove surface and sub surface stains. Over the counter whitening agents by and large contain a lower potency of bleaching agent than the products used in your dentist's clinic. These should be used for longer period to get the desired effect. OTC whiteners are generally cheaper than the products used by your dentist.

OTC teeth whitening process is not recommended for pregnant women or the women who are breast-feeding. If you have a gum disease or any problem in tooth enamel, or you have sensitive teeth then you should avoid teeth whitening products sold in the market. Children under the age of 16 and people who have peroxide allergy are advised not to use such product indiscriminately.

It hardly matters which product you are using, whitening process is not a permanent solution and this should be repeated periodically to maintain the brighter color. Whitening effects of OTC products usually last for several months. This can vary depending on various factors like desired and current teeth color, foods habits and beverages you consume, condition of your oral hygiene and care taken to maintain the same.

Teeth whitening systems will not work on exposed roots, crowns, veneers or such other teeth restorations. While choosing an OTC whitening agent, buy those products with the Seal of Acceptance by an authorized dental association. These products maintain the standards of safety and effectiveness. It is highly recommended that you consult your dentist before using OTC whitening products.
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