Is Teeth Whitening Safe? The Truth Revealed!

is teeth whitening safe

Is teeth whitening safe? There is no question about the popularity of this treatment with 37 million Americans using it in 2020. However, there are differences in the quality, effectiveness, and side effects among treatment options. Therefore, anyone wanting to get whiter teeth needs to know more about how the types of treatment work and which will offer the best results with as few downsides as possible. Find out the truth about teeth whitening today.


What Causes Yellow Teeth?

Tooth yellowing typically refers to any type of discoloration of the teeth. Because several issues can cause discoloration, the dentist needs to make an evaluation of the patient's oral health first before choosing the best whitening option. Some common causes of tooth discoloration or yellowing on the outside of the teeth include:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Smoking or using tobacco products
  • Drinking soda, coffee, wine, tea, or other staining beverages
  • Eating dark-colored fruits

For the above causes of external tooth discoloration, many over-the-counter products work well, such as a whitening pen or at-home teeth whitening kits.

The teeth can also change color from internal factors. Examples of internal factors include genetics, antibiotic use, cavities or decay, and aging. These causes result in discoloration from the inside of each tooth. Therefore, topical treatments, such as whitening toothpaste, prove less effective in correcting them.


what causes yellow teeth


How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Teeth whitening products differ in how they correct discoloration. For instance, products that treat internal tooth discoloration use bleaching and require a dentist to administer them. These professional teeth whitening options typically include combinations of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide in these preparations produces oxygen molecules that interact with organic compounds in the teeth. Some products require changes in temperature, administration of a special light, or pH shifts to activate and lighten the teeth chemically.

Because they use higher amounts of bleaching ingredients, some patients may develop gum or tooth sensitivity following the procedure. Those with existing tooth sensitivity should discuss this with their dentist before getting professional teeth whitening.

Over-the-counter products used to correct external discoloration typically work by using abrasive ingredients to scrub stains off the outside of the teeth. Some whitening treatment products may also use peroxides to produce minor lightening. However, they usually don't have as much peroxide as professional whitening treatments. Therefore, they don't produce results that are as bright as in-office procedures.


Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

All dental procedures come with possible side effects. To reduce the chances of these side effects, patients should discuss with their dentist the best teeth whitening products for them. For example, patients with gum sensitivity may need in-office treatment to ensure the product stays off the gums.

Some of the most common side effects patients have with either over-the-counter (OTC) or professional whitening treatments include gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. The good news about these side effects is that they don't tend to last long.

Those who use OTC teeth whitening products like whitening strips, whitening gel, and etc. can have irritation to the teeth and gums from misplacing the whitening strips or improperly applying a whitening pen. However, these products have lower amounts of bleaching agents that can cause discomfort.


How Does Teeth Whitening Work


When getting in-office whitening, patients have direct care from their dentist to reduce the chances of side effects. For instance, the dentist can take measures to make sure the bleaching product does not contact the gums. Or they can recommend different kinds of toothpaste to use to reduce post-treatment sensitivity.

Lastly, teeth whitening is not a permanent fix, especially for discoloration that starts from the inside. Therefore, to maintain their newly brightened smiles, patients need to have good oral hygiene, including regular dental cleanings and examinations. Brushing and flossing twice daily can prevent stains from building on the teeth and causing external discoloration. However, internal yellowing or discoloration will likely return, even with good dental care. Consequently, patients need to plan to return to their dentist to repeat the whitening process in the future to keep their smiles bright.


Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

OTC products that bear the American Dental Association acceptance seal are safe to use because they don't cause damage to the teeth. These products have shown that they are both effective at whitening teeth and safe for use. However, everyone should watch out for unapproved tooth whitening methods, including home remedies found online or in stores.

Some whitening remedies or products can be dangerous by wearing away protective tooth enamel. Popular toothpaste or other dental products that contain charcoal may fall into this category. Other teeth whitening options that can damage tooth enamel include home remedies such as using vinegar or other acidic products. By wearing away the surface layer of the teeth, these products cause the teeth to dull and yellow. Plus, the teeth with worn enamel are more prone to stains.

One thing to consider is that you can't bleach your dental hardware. Whiteners won't change the color of tooth-supported fixtures like bridges, dentures, porcelain veneers, and crowns. However, the whitening process likely does not harm these dental restorations. With millions of people whitening their teeth annually, dentists generally consider the process safe.


Professional Teeth Whitening Options

Professional teeth whitening options include in-office whitening and take-home trays. Generally, in-office options may use a whitening gel applied to the teeth with trays. Some of these require light activation while others don't. Another option for in-office whitening uses a mixture of concentrated hydrogen peroxide and water applied for up to 30 minutes to the teeth. The dentist will determine the best in-office solution for their patient based on availability and the patient's oral health. For the fastest whitening results, in-office procedures are best.

Another whitening option is dentist-supervised take-home teeth whitening kits. Each kit comes with custom-designed trays. Because the trays fit the patient's teeth, they reduce the chances of gum irritation produced by the process. Take-home kits use varying concentrations of carbamide peroxide. The amount of this peroxide and the results the patient needs will determine how long the patient must wear the trays. Daily use may average as little as two hours up to 10 hours. While the total treatment time could take between a week and a month.


professional teeth whitening


So, is teeth whitening safe? The best way to find out about your personal case is to consult with us at Peach Valley Dental or contact your dentist. We can help you to find the best teeth whitening treatment for your smile. Contact us online today to request your appointment with us. Let us help you to get a better, brighter smile with our professional teeth whitening options.

Kelle Dennis, D.D.S
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