Everyone wants their teeth to be, as it were, “pearly whites.” But is teeth whitening safe? When done properly using the right products, always under the care of your dentist, teeth whitening can be entirely safe and can give you the beautifully white smile you desire.
Why Don’t Teeth Stay Naturally White?
Tooth enamel is naturally white, but certain foods and drinks can discolor it. Common culprits are coffee, tea, soda, wine, sweets, citrus, berries, tomatoes, and certain spices. Minimizing your consumption of these foods and drinks can reduce staining. However, for most of us, it’s not realistic to avoid these substances entirely. Doing so can even deprive you of certain nutrients that are critical to your overall health. Therefore, it is understandable that your teeth may lose some of their whiteness and brightness as you get older.
Factors That Affect the Safety, Efficacy, and Comfort of Teeth Whitening Solutions
FDA Approved With the ADA Seal of Acceptance
To ensure that your teeth whitening solution is safe, only use products that are FDA approved and have the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which is administered for over-the-counter products. “Clinically proven” assures you that the product has been put through rigorous testing and is indeed safe for use. It also determines whether the treatment is effective. If you purchase a product that claims to whiten teeth but a note somewhere on the product says, “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA,” you have no guarantees and will be using it at your own risk. Luckily, there are plenty of teeth whitening products out there with these safety labels for you to choose from.
Your Dental Health
If your teeth and gums are not in good condition, teeth whitening may NOT be safe for you. For instance, if your teeth have holes or cracks, tooth bleaching products could seep through and damage the tooth root. Similarly, if your teeth have worn enamel or if you have cavities or gum disease, your dentist may discourage you from bleaching your teeth. However, if your teeth are generally healthy, your dentist will more than likely approve teeth whitening as an appropriate treatment for you.
Having Sensitive Teeth or Gums
Some people have naturally sensitive teeth or gums. Teeth and gum sensitivity after using whitening agents is only temporary and usually goes away within 48 hours. Sensitivity may increase and become more uncomfortable with prolonged use of the treatment.
The longer you use a teeth whitening solution, the greater your tooth sensitivity may become. There is not enough information available to safely recommend unsupervised long-term use or repeated use of teeth whitening products. If you are interested in a long-term solution or if you need severe teeth whitening, talk to your dentist about solutions that will be appropriate for you.
Reliable Teeth Whitening Solutions
There are two types of teeth whitening solutions: bleaching products, which can remove surface stains and deep stains, and non-bleaching products, which can remove surface stains only. Various treatments and solutions can be purchased at drug stores, given by your dentist for at-home use, or administered by your dentist in the dental office.
- Take-Home Teeth Whitening: At-home bleaching trays can be custom-fitted to your teeth to give you a whiter smile within just a few weeks. Teeth whitening strips may also be recommended. At-home solutions are often quite affordable and easy to use.
- In-Office Teeth Whitening: A tooth bleaching gel can be applied during a two-hour treatment session at the dentist’s office. This quick and effective treatment can produce immediate and excellent results.
Talk to Your Dentist First
Regardless of which treatment you have chosen, talk to your dentist before using any teeth whitening solution. Your dentist will assess your dental and oral health to determine if bleaching your teeth is a good form of treatment. It is always best to entrust your teeth whitening to dental experts to ensure safe treatment and the best results. With professional monitoring, you can avoid risking any damage, severe discomfort, or other issues and still achieve a whiter and brighter smile.
Chad Tomazin, DDS offers in-office and at-home teeth whitening solutions at his dental practice in Riverside, California. To request your appointment with Dr. Tomazin, call (951) 686-3666 or fill out our online contact form today.