I’ve always been a bit self-conscious about my teeth. Since college, I could tell my teeth had gotten increasingly stained, most likely due to my love for coffee. I wanted picture-perfect white teeth like everyone seemed to have on Instagram and television, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. 

When I got the opportunity to try an at-home whitening solution, I knew I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things I wish I knew before I started whitening my teeth at home. I would have saved myself a lot of pain, but now I know better. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes to start out on the right foot the first time around. 

Wendy Dessler with outreachmama.com.

Wendy Dessler with outreachmama.com.

1. Beware Any Fillings

I’ve always considered myself somewhat unlucky when it came to fillings. You could say I’ve had my fair share. Maybe it’s because I’m predisposed to it or because my teeth are very crowded together. Either way, I’ve always been prone to fillings.

What I didn’t know was that teeth whitening doesn’t affect fillings or any type of material within the teeth. Luckily, I only have one filling that’s somewhat visible from the front, but it was clear that this wasn’t affected by the bleaching agent. If you look closely, you can tell that this section isn’t nearly as white as my natural teeth. Porcelain veneers or dental bonding are the only way to affect the appearance of these materials. 

2. Check Your Gum Health

When I experimented with at-home teeth whitening, I didn’t give much thought to my gum health. I tried whitening when I was still recovering from a mild case of gingivitis, and it definitely didn’t help the situation. 

I quickly realized that my gums were increasingly red and irritated thanks to the treatment. It’s definitely important to pay close attention to your gums before trying any kind of bleaching treatment. Unfortunately, I didn’t have dental insurance at the time, so it’s worth looking into the right dental insurance plan before starting your own whitening treatment. Visit HealthMarkets for more information about those plans. 

3. It Takes Time

I had this unrealistic idea that my teeth would like dramatically different after one treatment. Boy was I wrong! At-home whitening takes time. The whitening agent isn’t as strong as the ones you’ll find at dental offices, so it will take more treatments to see results. 

I didn’t start to notice a real difference until about 4 treatments in. The at-home system recommended to repeat the treatment a few times a week until the results had been reached, but I found results I was happy with after 5 treatments. 

4. Be Mindful of Sensitivity

My teeth have always been a bit sensitive, but whitening made it much worse. Luckily, the at-home system I used had a sensitivity treatment to use if you’re prone to sensitivity, and it did help greatly. However, it was really annoying to drink anything too hot or too cold within a few days of my treatments. 

While my teeth seem to have gone back to normal over time, it was very unpleasant to experience. I’d definitely warn anyone with already sensitive teeth to be careful with whitening treatment since it can make teeth even more sensitive. 

5. It Wasn’t Perfect

Last but not least, my experience with teeth whitening at home wasn’t perfect. My teeth weren’t consistently bleached, and it left a few stains. These small stains stand out to me more now, and I wish I just went to my dentist to begin with. 

When you get your teeth whitened under the supervision of a dentist, they’re able to create the right treatment for your specific teeth. They can take your discoloration and staining into account to help you avoid any issues like I was experiencing. Ultimately, I think I had expectations for the experience that were simply too high!

Final Thoughts

If I could do it again, I’d go to my dentist for a professional whitening treatment. While the at-home solution was more affordable, I don’t feel like I fully got my money’s worth. Many dentists now offer at-home solutions they can help with, making the process much more likely to be a success. 

My smile is brighter, but the at-home treatment wasn’t the right fit for my oral health. If you’re considering a teeth whitening treatment, I’d recommend talking to your dentist for their recommendation. While at-home solutions can work, you shouldn’t get started on your own. 

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