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Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

January 17, 2022

Overview

Shiny white teeth are desired by everyone. However, there are a number of reasons that can cause staining and discoloration of teeth.

There are also several options available If one wishes to make them brighter and whiter, safely. 

These range from visiting the dentist for whitening treatments or trying whitening products at home.

Though teeth whitening can cause some side effects, most conventional whitening treatments have always been deemed safe.

However, a few recent researches indicate there might be a downside to popular teeth whitening treatments. We will discuss them all in this article.

Causes of Teeth Discoloration

There are several reasons which can cause discoloration of teeth. Contrary to normal belief, the discoloration of teeth is a sign of healthy teeth.

Teeth can change color due to ill health, age, as the enamel, wears away or through staining from the foods and drinks.

The color of the teeth can also be impacted by our genetics.

Discoloration of teeth is divided into two categories.

1. Extrinsic Discoloration

Discoloration and stains caused by foods, beverages, or smoking habits are called Extrinsic discoloration.

Coffee, tea, red wine, foods with dyes, and tobacco can contribute to this type of staining.

These stains affect the outside of teeth and can be treated with whitening toothpaste.

2. Intrinsic Discoloration

Discoloration from within the tooth caused by medication use, childhood illness, infection, tooth trauma, or aging is called Intrinsic Discoloration.

One may need to professionally bleach it to get the same level of teeth whiteness.

The teeth whitening methods should be chosen according to the types of staining and discoloration one has.

Teeth Whitening Options

There are various methods and products available to whiten teeth.

Discussing the whitening methods with your dentist can prove helpful in making a decision about a treatment plan based on your needs. 

Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening, by a qualified dental professional, is the safest and most effective option for whiter teeth, offering the greatest and long-lasting results.

There are several different methods used by dentists to whiten the teeth either in the office or at home.

Most popularly, they bleach the teeth with carbamide peroxide which breaks down to hydrogen peroxide and urea, targeting the tooth’s color in a chemical reaction. It’s considered a safe way to whiten teeth.

Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and one should always trust a qualified and registered dental professional for the process.

Dental professionals use regulated, prescription-only materials and any whitening carried out by someone without adequate dental qualifications can put oral health at risk.

Some non-dental professionals may use materials that are illegal and can cause many complications like sensitivity, swelling of the lips and tongue and burns to the mouth and gums, causing a lot of pain and in some instances causing damage to the surface of the teeth. 

Related Article: Teeth Whitening- The Zoom Teeth Whitening Procedure

At-Home Treatment Through Your Dentist

Teeth can also be whitened at home, with help of custom-fit trays made by dentists to fit into the mouth.

A gel is added to it and the tray is worn for 30 minutes to 1 hour a day for a few weeks to whiten the teeth.

Some dentists may prescribe you a professional whitening kit to take home.

Home whitening prescribed by a dental professional can be as effective as a professional whitening but it may take more time to achieve results than the instant result from professional whitening treatment.

Teeth Whitening Products and Other At-Home Options

Some over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products can help with stained teeth.

These products have very little or absolutely no carbamide peroxide like in professional products.

OTC teeth whiteners may not work as effectively or may take longer to whiten if the teeth are intrinsically discolored.

One must always opt for products with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance so as to assure the safety of the product used.

There can be serious risks involved in buying unregulated products in which one may not know for sure the components or concentration of the product.

One must also always make sure to follow the safety instructions on the products.

However, there is always some risk involved of the whitening substances coming into contact with gums or causing damage or sensitivity, in any type of whitening not done by professionals. 

Whitening Toothpaste

The brushing of teeth twice a day is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene.

Many people swap the regular toothpaste for the one that promises to whiten their teeth.

Whereas Regular toothpaste help to remove some surface stains as they cleans teeth while also improving the health of your mouth, the whitening toothpaste can help make your smile brighter by removing even more surface stains.

However, toothpaste generally contains abrasive components, such as silica, which scrub the surface of the teeth.

Though most whitening toothpaste cannot cause you any problems, charcoal toothpaste which has become increasingly popular can actually do more harm than good.

Charcoal can cause the erosion of enamel, exposing yellow dentine tissue, increasing sensitivity in the process making teeth more susceptible to decay.

Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is usually considered safe, but some side effects may be experienced from the treatments:

Teeth Sensitivity

The teeth may experience extra sensitivity after the teeth whitening treatment.  It usually diminishes with time. 

Irritated Gums

Irritation of the gums also known as gingival irritation can also be experienced after the tooth whitening treatments.

This can be caused by the gums coming in contact with the whitening product and usually going away after the treatment is over.

One needs to remember that teeth cannot be whitened permanently.  Regular whitening treatments for both extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration are important. 

The Takeaway

We all seek shiny white teeth. But teeth staining and discoloration is a common problems.

We are often circumspect about the safety of the various teeth whitening methods. 

The dentist-approved methods for teeth whitening the teeth are considered absolutely safe.

One must make sure to stick to them. A discussion with your dentist will help you decide the method that suits your needs. For any kind of dental emergency, feel free to contact us online or call the office

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