Do you have a clean bill of dental health? It's important to have a complete oral exam before beginning any whitening treatment to be sure you are cavity-free and don't have any underlying problems like gum disease. Teeth whitening can aggravate these issues and cause further damage and pain.
Do you have extra sensitive teeth and gums? Be sure to tell your dentist before beginning any professional treatment -- your treatment can be altered as necessary or something can be prescribed to help with the pain. It also helps to use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth for several weeks before, during and after treatment.
Are you prepared to follow through with the full course of treatment? Most whitening treatments take several days to weeks before desired results are achieved. Generally speaking, the longer the treatment time the gentler the whitener is on teeth and gums. Most OTC products take about two weeks to complete. In addition, once-a-day treatments take longer to produce results but generally cause less sensitivity issues. Even professional in-office treatments require some maintenance at home. For the best results it's important to follow guidelines as specifically as possible -- including avoiding stain-causing foods while undergoing treatment.
Can you be realistic? Results vary from one person to the next and often are based on the starting condition of your teeth. Experts say many people have unrealistic expectations and want their teeth to look whiter than what is natural. This often leads to over-whitening, which can cause excessive sensitivity and a translucent bluish hue on teeth.
How important are your vices? Teeth-whitening results last longest if you avoid stain-causing foods and beverages such as coffee, tea and berries -- as well as cigarettes and tobacco products.