Everyday things such as coffee, wine, and even spaghetti sauce can take a once bright, white smile and transform it into something discolored. If you were once used to brilliant white teeth and find yourself staring into the mirror and wondering when your teeth went from dazzling to dull, you’re not alone. In fact, more than half of Americans are insecure about their teeth. The good news is that there are many different ways to whiten your smile. The most common way is over-the-counter whitening strips. However, your dentist in Sparks wants you to know the benefits and risks that go along with the use of whitening strips.
Whitening Strips: 101
Whitening strips are thin pieces of plastic covered with an active whitening ingredient. Some of the active ingredients can include hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, or chlorine dioxide. When in doubt, look for a product that offers no more than 14% of hydrogen peroxide and steer clear of anything that has chlorine dioxide – it can irreversibly damage tooth enamel. Additionally, it’s crucial to follow package instructions accurately. Whitening strips that are used too often or left on too long can cause unwanted side effects, and there’s no benefit to doing so.
What To Know Before Buying Whitening Strips
There are so many different kinds of whitening strips available to you. You can buy them almost anywhere – from your local grocery store to online without ever consulting your dentist in Sparks. However, we encourage you to first talk with your dentist before spending any money on whitening strips. After all, whitening strips are only effective at removing surface stains and not internal stains, and it’s hard to know the difference between the two without a professional opinion.
Risks of Whitening Strips
While whitening strips can be effective at removing surface stains, they don’t come without their risks. Some risks of using whitening strips can include:
- Gum Irritation – Whitening strips that contain hydrogen peroxide can whiten teeth, but if too much of the whitening strips touch too much of the gums for too long it can cause damage. Whitening strips can result in gum swelling and bleeding if used incorrectly.
- Splotchy Whitening – While whitening strips often use ingredients to effectively stick them to teeth, patchy or splotchy whitening can occur. This can make discoloration even more obvious than it was before.
- Sensitivity – Perhaps the most common side effect of whitening strips is tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity can have symptoms such as fast zaps of pain through teeth and pain when eating or drinking something hot or cold.
Are Whitening Strips Right For You?
The absolute best way to make sure you’re investing your money into something that will give you the results you want is to first talk with your dentist in Sparks. They can help determine the origin of your tooth staining and recommend the best way to whiten your smile that will give you the results you want.
It’s a well-known fact that smoking can affect your lungs, heart, and other parts of your body. But did you know that smoking can also cause trouble with your oral health? In fact, smokers are at increased risk for several diseases and complications that affect the mouth, teeth, and gums. In celebration of the Great American Smokeout, which aims to help current smokers make a plan to quit, your dentist in Sparks wants to share a few ways that smoking can put your oral health at risk.
How Does Smoking Affect Oral Health?
Not only does smoking increase the likelihood of developing serious overall health problems such as certain cancers, but it can also cause damage to your oral health.
- Tooth Staining
Cigarettes contain a boatload of ingredients, chemicals, and carcinogens, which is anything that is known to cause cancer. But each cigarette also contains nicotine, the addictive ingredient, and tar in the tobacco. Both nicotine and tar can cause tooth staining. Smokers’ teeth may be noticeably yellow or can have brown spots.
- Gum Disease
Besides the negative cosmetic side effects of smoking, there are real health risks associated with smoking. One of those risks is gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection in the gums that may display signs of red, swollen, painful gums, or gums that bleed during brushing or flossing. But that’s not all. Gum disease has also been linked to various whole-health issues including heart disease, respiratory infections, dementia, and diabetes.
- Tooth Loss
While we’re on the topic of gum disease, it’s important to note that it’s also one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Since people who smoke are more likely to get gum disease, it means they’re also more likely to experience tooth loss. One of the worst parts about gum disease is if it’s not caught early, the infection can be irreversible. This is one reason why it’s so important to see your dentist in Sparks regularly so they can check for early signs of gum disease and treat it quickly.
- Oral Cancer
Perhaps the most common word associated with smoking is cancer. Any type of cancer diagnosis can be scary, including oral cancer. According to the American Lung Association, smokers are ten times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers. But it’s not just cigarettes that can increase this risk. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco all contain cancer-causing carcinogens and can increase the risk of oral cancer.
Making a plan to quit smoking and utilizing the resources available to you can help make what may now seem like the impossible, possible. If you are interested in quitting, let your dentist in Sparks help you learn how you can start improving your oral health the minute you put out that last cigarette.