If you are planning to whiten your teeth, make sure you understand how whitening works before you proceed. Although teeth whitening treatment is safe, if you don't prepare properly beforehand, you could harm your teeth or compromise the results of your whitening treatment.

Before you whiten your teeth at home or in a dental office, ensure you carry out the following actions first to get the best results from your treatment.

1. Repair Your Teeth

Do you have any cavities, cracks or chips in your teeth? Even if you think you don't have any, check your teeth thoroughly before you proceed. Teeth whitening works via a bleaching chemical called hydrogen peroxide, which penetrates tooth enamel in order to reach the deepest parts of your teeth.

But your tooth enamel also protects you from extreme sensitivity during the procedure. For instance, if you have a cavity or crack in the tooth, the whitening bleach will penetrate that damaged area and irritate the nerve in the centre of that tooth. Not only could this kill the nerve, but this could be extremely painful for you.

Check your teeth for any damage before you whiten them.

2. Replace Faulty Dental Fillings

If you have dental fillings, are you sure that they are still in good condition? Just as the bleaching solution can penetrate your teeth via cavities, cracks and chips, it can also penetrate your teeth via worn out or damaged fillings. This could be extremely painful for you. Metal fillings last about 15 years if taken care of.

If your fillings are older than that, have your dentist check them before you whiten your teeth.

3. Go for a Dental Cleaning

One of the biggest obstacles to whitening is tartar. And most people have at least some tartar on their teeth, especially if they haven't been for a dental cleaning in a while. Tartar is usually yellow or greyish in colour. This alone means that your teeth won't be fully white after whitening, with the areas covered in tartar darker than the enamel surface of the teeth.

And whitening is also ineffective on tartar, and so although the main portions of your teeth will be whitened after your treatment, the results will be ruined by the tartar.

Whitening is a great way to boost your smile and your confidence. But make sure your teeth and gums are ready before you begin whitening your teeth. Otherwise, you could be in for a painful and costly surprise.

For more information about tooth whitening, talk to your dentist.