Browse the tooth care aisle of any supermarket and you're sure to see dozens of tooth whitening products, from toothpastes to strips to gels you brush on your teeth. While these products might be relatively safe and may offer some results, it's usually best to leave tooth whitening to your dentist. You want to avoid any and all those tooth whitening products you see at the supermarket, no matter their advertisements. Note a few of those reasons here and then discuss these with your dentist as needed.

1. Drying

One thing to consider is that many tooth whitening products might actually dry your mouth. They often use products that are abrasive and dry, and this can mean drying out the inside of your mouth. You need adequate saliva production in your mouth in order to rinse away germs and bacteria and food particles that are stuck between your teeth. If a dentist were to use certain products that might cause your mouth to become dry, he or she can monitor this condition and then even prescribe products to regenerate saliva, or use a different product that isn't so drying.

2. Caps and other artificial teeth

When you use tooth whitening products, they are not going to work on caps, veneers, bonded teeth, or dentures. These products don't change color or respond to the bleach in tooth whitening products. You may use an over-the-counter product for your teeth only to find that your capped teeth or partial dentures now look very dingy and out of place. Your dentist can properly bleach your real teeth and then also repaint or otherwise recolor your artificial teeth so that they match and your smile looks its best.

3. Tooth exam

Teeth can yellow and get discolored for a variety of reasons; they may discolor as you age or you may find that they get stains because of smoking, drinking red wine, and so on. Your dentist can examine your teeth and find out the exact reason why they are getting discolored and if you should make changes to your diet or habits that can better protect the teeth. If they're getting discolored due to decay or other such serious damage, he or she can also recommend fillings and changes you can make to better protect your teeth, not just from discoloration but from this damage as well.

For more information on teeth whitening, talk to your dentist.