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Teeth Whitening's Dirty Little Secrets.. Part One

Smiling Woman Teeth whitening procedures have become a very popular. Who wouldn't want a beautiful white smile? Who wouldn't want to be more attractive to others, feel better about themselves and have a better chance of landing their next job? The good news is that bleaching or lightening your teeth works. It works so well that thousands and thousands of people are bleaching their teeth. Compared to other cosmetic procedures teeth whitening is inexpensive and has very few side effects.

One of the first things you should know when reviewing products that are sold to whiten your teeth is, what is the difference between whitening and bleaching. Huh? Aren't they the same thing? Is this a trick question? Yes it is, sort of. It isn't designed to trick us but smart marketing companies use it to fool us (myself included) all the time.

Okay so here it goes, the FDA that's the Food and Drug Administration says that in order for a product to use the term "bleaching" it must be able to lighten your teeth beyond their natural color. That sounds fair. To do this these products almost always contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.

"Whitening" on the other hand means that a product can remove the dirt, smoke, food or other things that stain your teeth and restore them back to their original color. So a product like tooth paste for example that cleans your teeth can say that it will "whiten" your teeth.

So what if you, me and millions of others think that means it will get our teeth lighter? The term "whitening" is used more often than the term "bleaching", even when describing products that actually "bleach" your teeth. Savvy marketers know this and take advantage of us when they are trying to sell us their products. So be a smart consumer when it comes to shopping for products that whiten or bleach your teeth.

Dr. Theodore Siegel

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