Our Toothworks dentists are often asked by our patients if whitening will damage their teeth. In this post, our dentists at Toothworks Sterling Dental provide information on the safety of teeth whitening to reassure those looking for a brighter, and whiter, smile.
Why whiten your teeth?
Teeth can become stained over time, resulting in a loss of natural whiteness. This can occur due to a variety of factors, including ageing, lifestyle choices (such as tobacco use), eating habits (consumption of beverages such as coffee, tea, or other sugary drinks), and even some medications. Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that many patients find boosts their confidence by allowing them to show off their brightest, whitest smile.
What are the options for whitening teeth?
Whitening can be done in several different ways:
- In-office professional whitening by your dental hygienist, usually in one or two appointments
- At-home professional whitening with take-home kits from your dentist's office custom-made for you
- Over-the-counter products from a pharmacy, which are done without supervision by a dentist or a dental hygienist
How safe is it to whiten (bleach) my teeth?
Professional teeth whitening treatments are generally both safe and effective. Again, as long as you follow the directions, over-the-counter products are generally safe. Professional teeth whitening (both in-office and at-home versions) is usually overseen by your dentist, so any issues that may arise can be addressed before they become more serious.
Professional treatment is, on average, quicker and more effective as they use stronger whitening solutions than over-the-counter products. This could mean fewer treatments to achieve your desired result.
Be aware that professional at-home teeth whitening is a process that usually takes longer than in-office treatment. This is due to the amount of hydrogen peroxide being used. In-office treatments can use up to 43% hydrogen peroxide. This is because the dentist is there and can control the amount of hydrogen peroxide and how it is used.
Take-home treatments normally use around 5% of hydrogen peroxide. While this does mean the treatment will take longer, there is less risk if you accidentally make a mistake during treatment. Remember, the lower amount of hydrogen peroxide is for your safety.
Over-whitening or whitening too frequently might cause damage to your teeth or gums, so be sure to discuss the protocol your dentist recommends for you and let them know of any questions you have. Your dentist is there to assure you of the safety of the treatment.
Are there side effects to teeth whitening?
The most common side effect is temporary gum irritation if the solution comes into contact with your gums. Should this happen, any irritation will most likely subside shortly after the treatment. However, feel free to contact your dentist if you start to worry.