What You Should Know Before You Whiten Your Teeth — PHOTOS

New Year's is generally the time when people start to think about bettering themselves and what they want to do to change. While working out more and hair makeovers are some of the most popular, another simple but effective transformation is teeth whitening. If you're interested in brightening up your smile, there are a few things you should know before you whiten your teeth. I mean, you definitely don't want to do anything to alter your appearance without researching everything you can about it first.

You may not know everything about whitening teeth, but what you probably do know is that you have options. You can spend as much or as little as you want, depending if you're looking to go to a professional or buy an at home whitening kit at the drugstore. But if you save money, will you be skimping on effectiveness? Is it just better to save up and spend more? Are there any side effects? These are all things worth considering, and which route you choose to go depends on your personal needs and wants.

So before you make any major decisions, here are a few things you should know before you get your teeth whitened.

1. It Won't Last Forever

Even if you go to a professional, whitening won't last forever. You will probably need follow-up treatments, and the results generally last one to three years.

2. Costs Vary

Crest Whitestrips; $19.88; amazon.com

While at home kits cost around $20, professional whitening can run you up to $650. But luckily, follow up treatments aren't as expensive as the initial procedure.

3. There Can Be Side Effects

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It seems like the most simple of procedures, but you do need to be aware of the side effects of some whitening products, including sensitivity for 24 hours post-whitening. In addition, whitening toothpastes can be abrasive on the teeth, causing sensitivity and possibly leading to gum recession. Other common side effects include soft tissue irritation when the whitening solution gets on the gums, and if you ingest any of the gel in at home kits, you can become nauseated.

4. Not Everyone Can Whiten Their Teeth

If you are pregnant and lactating, you should avoid whitening because of the chemicals used. In addition, anyone with peroxide allergies, extremely sensitive teeth or gums, exposed roots, cavities, or worn enamel should resist whitening.

5. Results Vary

Results aren't uniform for everyone, and the better health and condition your teeth were to begin with, the whiter they will be.

6. Oral Hygiene Is Important

Speaking of the health of your teeth, if you want the whitening to stick, you need to maintain good oral hygiene. That means not smoking, avoiding dark red wines, or any staining substances like coffee for the first 48 hours.

7. Beware Of Over Whitening

You might get caught up in how pearly white they look initially, but don't become addicted. Having the procedure done too many times can cause permanent damage to your teeth, weakening tooth enamel and producing a discoloration that can't be reversed.

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