Is Teeth Whitening Safe

Is Teeth Whitening Safe
Posted on 09/30/2018
This is the image for the news article titled Is Teeth Whitening Safe

Everyone wants a smile they can be proud of, and one of the easiest ways to improve your smile is by undergoing a tooth whitening treatment. However, 78 percent of people experience tooth sensitivity and 40 percent report irritated gums after teeth whitening. Does this mean whitening treatments hurt your body? Are there dangerous chemicals like bleach used in the procedure?

Fortunately, the answer is no. “Tooth bleaching” is a misnomer – no bleach or other harmful substances are used when whitening your smile.

Where Do Tooth Stains Come From?


There are two main types of tooth stains, and both can be resolved with whitening treatments.

Extrinsic stains caused by:

  • Coffee
  • Soda
  • Wine
  • Dark-colored foods and drinks
  • Cigarettes
  • Chewing tobacco

Intrinsic stains caused by:

  • Fluorosis
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Cavities
  • Tooth damage
  • Certain medications

Both types of stains worsen with age as the inner dentin yellows and the outer enamel weakens. The aging process makes your teeth appear dingy even if your teeth are quite healthy.

Types of Teeth Whitening


In-Office Teeth Whitening

In-office teeth whitening is conducted by a dental professional, usually during a single appointment. To get the effect you desire, they will apply a highly concentrated carbamide peroxide paste to the teeth, which turns into hydrogen peroxide and urea. Natural chemical reactions between the peroxide and your mouth facilitate whitening.

Some dentists also apply a special light to improve results, but the effectiveness of light treatment is still up for debate.

This method works best for patients who:

  • Have existing dental issues
  • Want results quickly
  • Are concerned about applying at-home products incorrectly

Take-Home Whitening Trays

Your dentist can prescribe you a whitening paste or gel and a tray that slips over your teeth so you can apply your whitening treatment at home. This may be used in conjunction with an in-office whitening procedure or separately.

Prescribed whitening treatments are often stronger than over-the-counter products and may deliver faster results.

Over-the-Counter Bleaching Products

Most mainstream whitening products from trusted brands are safe to use, but not all are equally effective. If you’re unsure about a specific product, look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This seal indicates the product meets the ADA’s strict requirements for tooth whitening, which were refined in 2016.

Currently, Crest 3D White Glamorous White Whitestrips is the only item in the “Bleaching Products” category on the ADA’s Seal Product Shopping List. Consumers simply place these whitening strips on their teeth every day for a month to enjoy a brighter smile.

Other whitening products like toothpastes and rinses are also helpful at removing surface stains.

Natural At-Home Whitening Methods

While most professional and consumer whitening treatments are safe and effective, many at-home remedies are hit or miss. Some “natural” solutions are ineffective and potentially harmful, including:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Charcoal and table salt
  • Vinegar
  • Acidic fruits
  • Strawberries and baking soda
  • Oil pulling

Many of these methods can cause tooth damage or other adverse side effects like an upset stomach. You are much better off sticking to a product specifically formulated for teeth whitening, as tooth damage is hard to repair.

Potential Side Effects of Teeth Whitening


You may experience some mild discomfort as a result of the carbamide peroxide aggravating your gums and tooth pulp. Typically, tooth sensitivity disappears within four days after a strip or tray treatment, and gum irritation subsides after the paste is removed from the affected area.

Sensitivity may be avoided by applying a five-percent potassium nitrate or two-percent sodium fluoride gel before the procedure. Ibuprofen can successfully treat pain afterward.

It should also be noted that some people aren’t prime candidates for whitening. Children with a mix of baby and adult teeth or adults with tooth-colored replacements may notice that some teeth appear lighter than others after a whitening treatment. That being said, whitening treatments will not harm crowns, implants, bridges or fillings.

Professional Teeth Whitening at Ballas Dental Care in St. Louis, MO


If you’re looking for a speedy, noticeable improvement to your smile, professional tooth whitening is the way to go. At Ballas Dental Care, we offer a wide range of cosmetic dentistry procedures – including teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and implants – to boost your confidence. Call 314-432-5544 today to book your appointment.