Let’s be honest for a quick second – when you don’t like your smile, it can make you feel not-so-good about yourself. So, you start searching for options to improve your smile, the simplest way to do so is by teeth whitening. However, this raises the question: Is teeth whitening safe? Let’s find out more below.
Teeth Whitening: Why Do You Need It?
Dentists recommend teeth whitening to get rid of stains and discoloration from the tooth surface. There are 2 main types of stains –
As the name suggests, extrinsic stains form on the surface of teeth.
They occur due to the consumption of colored foods and drinks, such as tea, coffee, red wine, sugared candy, etc.
Smoking also causes stains on the teeth.
These are removed by using physical removal methods, such as scaling (done at a dentist’s office).
Additionally, tooth-whitening toothpaste also aids in the removal of these types of surface stains.
As opposed to extrinsic stains, intrinsic ones form within the tooth.
This type of discoloration occurs due to injury, medication, infection, age, etc.
To get rid of intrinsic stains and improve the “whiteness” of teeth, “bleaching” is done.
Now that you know about the types of stains you can develop on your teeth, let’s answer the question at hand—is teeth whitening safe for you?
Teeth Whitening Options
Many options and products are available to whiten your teeth. It is easy to get confused about what to use and whether or not they’re safe.
There are three main categories of teeth whitening, these include –
- Whitening that is done by your dentist
- Whitening products that are given by your dentist to use at home
- Options available over-the-counter or made at home without any professional oversight
The method you choose to whiten your teeth is based on one or more factors –
- The type of discoloration on the teeth
- The treatment method
- The cost involved
- Your age
- Your dental history
- The presence of dental crowns and fillings
You can discuss the whitening methods with your dentist before you try one. Your dentist can recommend a treatment plan to best address your needs. They’ll likely discuss a couple of different approaches to whitening your teeth.
Remember – the time it takes to whiten your teeth depends on the type of discoloration you have and the whitening method you choose.
Is Teeth Whitening Actually Safe?
For decades, teeth whitening methods have undergone implementation and evaluation. The cosmetic teeth bleaching industry was forecasted to be worth nearly $3.8 billion in 2021.
The American Dental Association states that effective and safe teeth whitening options are available for all 3 modes of whitening –
- In-office treatment
- At-home application
- Over-the-counter products
However, you might experience certain minor side effects. These include gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.
So, is teeth whitening safe or not? Well, just like any other dental procedure, there are certain risks involved.
Teeth Whitening Risks
The common active ingredients in whitening products are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.
In-clinic treatments and take-home kits – both prescribed by your dentist – contain higher levels of these agents.
The bleaching agents irritate the gums if they come in contact with them. When your dentist whitens your teeth, they take extra precautions to protect your gum tissue. A protective gel shields the gums from the bleaching agent.
Similarly, at-home trays are customized to fit your teeth. This prevents too much of the whitening gel from touching your gums.
If you do experience gum irritation, cease the whitening process and allow the gums to heal on their own.
Does It Increase Tooth Sensitivity?
Another common side-effect of all forms of bleaching is tooth sensitivity.
Many factors influence the severity of the sensitivity you feel, including the concentration of the bleaching agent.
Usually, the sensitivity resolves on its own. However, if it doesn’t, you can try the following –
- Brushing using a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Asking your dentist for a fluoride product to remineralize teeth
- Pausing the whitening process for a couple of days
- Wearing whitening strips or trays for shorter times
How To Safely Whiten Your Teeth
Once you’ve decided to go ahead with the whitening process, here are things you can do to ensure that you do it as safely as possible.
Step 1. Talk To Your Dentist
Your dentist evaluates the health of your teeth and addresses any issues – like gum disease and cavities – before beginning the whitening process. They also advise you on the best whitening method and answer any questions you may have.
Step 2: Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance
Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance if you are concerned about the safety of a product. The American Dental Association has reviewed independent studies and approved many whitening products (toothpaste, oral strips, etc.) for safety and effectiveness.
Step 3: Follow the Product Instructions
Each whitening product comes with a unique set of instructions for frequency and duration of use.
Overuse or incorrect product usage might increase the risk of experiencing side effects like gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.
So, to answer the question, “Is tooth whitening safe?”
In one word – yes.
All you need to do is handle the treatment like any other medical procedure –
- Listen to your dentist
- Follow the instructions
- Watch for unwanted side effects
After which, you can safely and effectively whiten your teeth and make them appear brighter and more radiant.
Still, Wondering Is Teeth Whitening Safe? Opt for Professional Teeth Whitening at Osseo Family Dental, MN
Osseo Family Dental is a practice that offers the superb care and advanced techniques of larger operations with the personalized feel of a hometown, neighborhood dentist.
An alumnus of the University of Minnesota, Dr. Springer is motivated to give you a healthy smile you are confident in! He fosters a positive, judgment-free environment to maximize your comfort at each visit.
Dr. Greg Joiner has been creating a welcoming dental practice since 1974. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Dental School and with almost 5 decades of dentistry, Dr. Joiner has experienced many aspects of the dental field, including serving many generations of Osseo Families.
And because we’re a family dental establishment, you have the convenience of bringing everyone in your family to us. Our team provides dental services to anyone and everyone!