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It’s a sad truth that some of us weren’t born with perfect smiles. Even if we were, sometimes a lifelong love of coffee, tea, or berries can stain our teeth and mar an otherwise beautiful grin. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there to brighten your smile. However, it can be easy to make mistakes while searching for a lighter smile. Here are eight basic teeth whitening mistakes to avoid.

1. Not Cleaning Your Teeth Before Whitening

It sounds obvious, but your teeth should be freshly brushed and flossed before you get them whitened. Having food debris or plaque on your teeth can ruin the entire whitening process. Always give your teeth a good cleaning before brightening them.

2. Using Cheap Whitening Strips

The lowest-priced whitening strips from the drugstore can render your teeth severely sensitive and irritate your gums. They also don’t efficiently brighten the spaces between your teeth the way a professional whitening tray from your dentist would.

3. Attempting to Whiten Veneers, Crowns, and Fillings

Teeth whitening doesn’t work on dental restorations like fillings, crowns, and veneers like they do on your natural teeth. So, don’t whiten your teeth too much. You could wind up with a darker restoration that stands out in your smile.

4. Eating and Drinking Right After Whitening

Immediately after whitening, your teeth may be sensitive and subject to staining. Your salivary glands produce a natural biofilm that coats your teeth. This barrier is temporarily broken down after using whitening products, so it’s best to avoid eating and drinking anything darkly pigmented for at least an hour afterwards.

5. Using an Ill-Fitting Whitening Tray

Most store-bought whitening kits come with trays that are one-size-fits-all, which really means they fit just about nobody. This sloppy approach allows saliva to wash away the active ingredient in your whitening gel before it has time to work its magic. It’s much better to invest in a professionally made tray from your dentist.

6. Trying Natural Whiteners

Maybe you don’t like the idea of applying chemicals to your teeth. In that case, it may be tempting to try out “natural” remedies like activated charcoal or salt. However, these methods are more abrasive to your teeth and can cause extreme sensitivity.

7. Using Cheap Whitening Kits

It’s easy to find cheap whitening kits in stores or online, but when it comes to teeth whitening, you get what you pay for. You’re better off buying a professional treatment from your dentist than a cheap kit that could potentially damage your teeth and gums.

8. Whitening Damaged Teeth

Before starting any teeth whitening treatment, you should consult your dentist to ensure you don’t have any tooth decay. If you don’t, then bleaching gel could seep into your cavities, resulting in further damage and serious pain.

Now that you know about these seven common teeth whitening mistakes, you know to avoid them. All in all, your best option is to see your dentist for a professional whitening treatment rather than one from the pharmacy.

About the Author

Dr. D. Michael Miller pursued his Doctor of Dental Surgery at Texas A&M and the Baylor College of Dentistry. He has been nominated as one of San Antonio’s Best Dentists and has been interviewed by Time Magazine as a San Antonio’s Top Dentist. His practice offers both at-home and in-office teeth whitening, so you can brighten your smile in whichever way is most convenient for you. To learn more, click here to visit Dr. Miller’s website.