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The Risks of Whitening Your Own Teeth

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Teeth whitening is generally performed with a bleaching gel – a chemical formula which will erode a small amount of your tooth enamel, leaving the whiter enamel underneath exposed. The gel is held against your teeth using a mould, or mouth guard, of some kind. The amount of time the mouth guard should be in your mouth for will vary between different treatments.

Whitening your teeth can be an expensive process. So, you might consider a home treatment. There are many available. There are also many general risks involved in such treatments. Here are some of them, which should be taken in to account before deciding.

Ill-fitting mouth guards: If you have your teeth whitened professionally, your dentist (or other health care professional) will take a mould of your teeth and produce a mouth guard which fits your mouth perfectly. If you buy a treatment kit off the shelf, there is no guarantee the mouth guard will fit properly at all; and it certainly won't fit as well as a professionally moulded one. A mouth guard which doesn't fit properly will not hold the bleaching gel to your teeth as it should. It might leak, which could result in chemical burns, blistering, and/or other irritation or sensitivity to your gums and the rest of your mouth.

The bleaching gel might not be strong enough: Precisely because of the inherent risks of putting strong bleaching chemicals in your mouth, many off the shelf treatments err on the side of caution and weaken the formula. Whilst this reduces the risk that you end up with nasty burns, it increases the likelihood that the treatment won't have the desired effect – it might not whiten your teeth!

The results won't last: All bleaching treatments, professional or otherwise, are temporary - you'll stain the newly exposed enamel eventually, too. However, if the treatment is properly tailored to you, and the bleaching gel is of the right strength etc. you can expect your teeth to shine for longer. A professional should how much bleaching your teeth can safely take. A packet on the shop shelf doesn't. The home treatment might be cheaper, but you would need multiple administrations to keep up the same results as a professional one.

TL; DR? It's possible that you could whiten your teeth at home more cheaply than having it done professionally; but the results won't last, and you might seriously harm yourself in the process. Don't risk it.