Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Let’s face it. No one likes to show off yellow, dingy teeth. Tooth discoloration may even make you less likely to smile.

The best defense for yellowing teeth is to prevent it altogether: limit or avoid your consumption of coffee, tea, soda, red wine, cigarettes, tobacco, and food with dyes. For some people, this may be a tall order. And what if your teeth are already discolored?

The Truth about Teeth Whitening

Whitening teeth is a practice that has been around for decades. And in the past 20 years or so, there have been numerous studies about the practice and its temporary or permanent effects on teeth. In general, when used safely and according to manufacturer’s instructions, ADA-approved products are both safe and effective in making teeth look both whiter and brighter.

Today, you will find several at-home and in-office procedures and products available. Some patients choose the comfort of their home, while others prefer the reassurance of a dentist-provided service. Both choices are OK. So, let’s look at your teeth whitening options.

At-Home Teeth Whitening Treatments

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes target your teeth with a variety of products: bleach, abrasives, and a chemical called blue covarine. These specially formulated toothpastes can make your teeth look whiter and brighter over time, so you’ll need patience here. However, toothpastes containing blue covarine may show quicker results because the chemical alone can make your teeth appear whiter.

Whitening Strips

Several manufacturers produce over-the-counter teeth bleaching strips. These strips can be molded and pressed to your teeth and must be worn for a designated amount of time. (See package instructions.) Activated with different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, these strips can be used once or twice a day while at home, on your lunch break, while you’re driving, etc.

Whitening Trays

Your dentist can prescribe a custom-fitted, mouthguard-style tray along with a tooth-whitening gel for use at home. You can use the tray at a designated time and frequency, according to your dentist’s instructions.

Activated Charcoals

One DIY option includes using activated charcoals to whiten your teeth. However, this method—and the results—are not scientifically proven. So, we recommend talking with your dentist before trying this method.

In-Office Teeth Whitening Treatments

In-office teeth whitening treatments are a convenient option for those who don’t want to deal with messy or cumbersome gels or who want to take the uncertainty out of an at-home procedure. Your dentist can also use a higher-concentration gel than you can use at home. Some dental offices may also supplement the treatment with a special bleaching lamp to enhance the effectiveness of the procedure, so you will see quicker results.

Side Effects

Although considered safe for in-office and at-home use, some teeth whitening products can cause sensitivity or irritation to the teeth and surrounding gums. If you are receiving an in-office treatment, your dentist can shield your gums with a protective gel. You can also opt to use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth for a time after your procedure. The sensitivity should diminish over time.

Staying Safe

Overall, Peace Haven Family Dentistry recommends the following tips to be safe while whitening your teeth.

  1. Look for the ADA seal of approval. All dental products must be deemed safe and effective in independent laboratory tests. Don’t use a product if it doesn’t have this seal of approval.
  2. Follow instructions. Depending on the concentration of ingredients, you may be able to use at-home treatments one or more times per day or over a period of a few weeks.
  3. Pay attention. If you’re experiencing sensitivity, then you may want to give your teeth a break.
  4. Ask your dentist. It’s important to consult with your dentist before trying any at-home or over-the-counter teeth whitening procedures.

Still wondering if teeth whitening is safe?

Contact our office for a consultation

We’ll be happy to answer all of your questions and guide you to the best treatment for you.

Houston Symmes

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