We are bombarded by ads on TV for teeth whitening. There are whitening strips, whitening toothpastes, mouth washes, chewing gums, laser whitenings, professional whitenings - everyone wants to whitening your teeth and make them bright and shiny. But do you really need whiter teeth? And if you do, are you going to get it from a gum or a toothpaste?

Teenagers are one of the biggest markets for teeth whitening products. It's easy to feel like you need to whiten your teeth when all of your friends are buying boxes of Crest White Strips, but the truth is that most teens won't really benefit from teeth whitening products. People's teeth naturally yellow with age and prolonged exposure to staining agents like coffee and cigarettes, but it doesn't usually become too noticeable until later - especially with proper brushing and flossing.

Additionally, while there's nothing wrong with using whitening toothpastes or gum, most of them don't have enough of any active ingredient to whiten anyone's teeth very dramatically. Chewing sugarless gum after meals can help to prevent cavities by stimulating saliva and taking out food particles that would cause plaque to form, but any other bleaching benefit will probably be minimal.

While most whitening procedures are safe, it's still a good idea to talk to a dentist before using over-the-counter teeth whitening kits, especially for teens who may not really need to bleach their teeth yet. Bleaching strips away a little bit of enamel, and over-bleaching can cause damage, especially if the directions on the whitening kit aren't followed. (I've seen a lot of questions on yahoo! answers about whether you can just go ahead and do a two week whitening kit in two days. I guess you could, but it's probably not going to be the most effective way to preserve your teeth into your old age.)

It's also important to consider your gums and mouth when buying teeth whitening products. Sometimes, things that are fine for your teeth can damage your softer oral tissues. Be careful when applying these products and try to avoid getting them on your gums or in your mouth any more than is necessary. Following the directions, applying carefully and avoiding over-bleaching can keep teeth-whitening from becoming unhealthy for your mouth.

Above all, don't buy into the idea that your teeth must be perfectly white at all times. Most TV ads are touched up to make the actors who are selling it have ridiculously white teeth, but in real life most people's teeth don't gleam in quite that way - and that's okay. It's fine to care about the appearance of your teeth and it's great to keep them clean and healthy, but don't lose sight of good health in favor of cosmetic appearance alone.

Author's Bio: 

Megan is the Web editor for Overstock Drugstore, an online pharmacy that offers great deals and great service on health and beauty products you use every day, including orbit bubblemint gum. Overstock Drugstore believes in offering the best products and the best service, including a help line that goes to a person every time. To learn more, visit http://www.overstockdrugstore.com.