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Q: Is it safe to have my teeth whitened by someone other than my dentist?

Posted October 15, 2014 in Advice Column, Ankeny

A: Teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental treatment in the U.S., so it’s not surprising that so many non-professionals are now offering it. Because these practitioners are not licensed dentists, their ability to safely and effectively whiten teeth is a matter of question. Only a dentist knows your teeth inside and out. This is important because sometimes teeth whitening isn’t straightforward.

For example, did you know that the dentin beneath your tooth enamel is actually yellow? If your enamel has eroded, it may appear as if your teeth are stained. In fact, dentin cannot be whitened. Attempting to do so could cause further damage, such as sensitivity and vulnerability to infection and decay.

And while teeth whitening is excellent for minor to moderate staining, there are some instances in which whitening will not produce the desired effect. A good example is teeth that have been discolored by taking certain medications, or that have been yellowed over the course of several years. Only your dentist can tell whether whitening will work for you, or whether an alternative cosmetic treatment — veneers or bonding, for example — is best.

Can you have your teeth whitening elsewhere? Yes. Should you? Not if you want to receive the best results.

Information provided by Dr. Erika Peddicord, Peddicord Family Dentistry, 121 N.E. 18th St., Suite C, 963-3339.

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