Is teeth whitening safe? It’s a reasonable enough question.
With teeth whitening treatments available everywhere, from your dentist chair to the beauty aisle of your supermarket, it’s a fair assumption that some are going to be better than others to give you the teeth whitening results you want. But are teeth whitening treatments safe, and do they work?
The quick answer is that it depends on what is in the bleaching gel and why your teeth have become stained, discoloured or yellow.
How does teeth whitening work?
Here’s a fun fact for you: According to ABC News, teeth whitening was discovered accidentally. Mouth rinses used to treat gum disease “back in the day” contained hydrogen peroxide, and whiter teeth was an unexpected side effect.
Hydrogen peroxide is still commonly used today, but carbamide peroxide is also used in some applications.
Teeth whitening treatments are often referred to as teeth bleaching because that’s effectively what is happening. The whitening gel is applied to the tooth enamel and sometimes activated with an LED light. The hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide in the whitening gel penetrates the tooth enamel, breaking down the stain molecules and dispersing them, so the teeth look white and clean.
Under the rules of the Australian law and Dental Board of Australia regulations (ADA), only dentists are legally allowed to offer teeth whitening treatments containing more than 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide. But, patients should be aware that these stronger ingredients can only be used in a dental clinic for in-chair teeth whitening to keep people safe.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening applications will contain considerably lower concentrations of peroxide and will take longer for noticeable results, or they may not work at all.
Is teeth whitening safe? What are the side effects?
Healthline list the most common side effects of any teeth whitening treatments to be the risk of increased tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.
Gum irritation generally goes away within a couple of days once you’ve finished teeth whitening treatment. In contrast, tooth sensitivity may take a little longer to dissipate, and your dentist may recommend using products like toothpaste for sensitive teeth in the meantime.
Is teeth whitening safe? What Are The Risks?
There’s always the risk that you won’t achieve the desired results, particularly if you are using over the counter teeth whitening treatments and haven’t had a dental check-up to ensure your teeth and mouth are healthy. Teeth whitening should not be undertaken if you have cavities or gum disease.
Many over the counter applications do not have any scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness. While they are unlikely to cause irreparable damage to your teeth, overuse could damage the tooth enamel. Ill-fitting trays could also cause the gel to leak into the mouth, causing chemical burns – ouch!
It’s also important to note that all teeth whitening treatments, whether from the dentist or over the counter, are only for use on natural teeth and will not work on crowns, bridges, dental implants or dentures. If you have any dental restorations, it’s crucial to discuss your smile objectives with your dentist.
Other potential risks are generally based around ensuring you follow the manufacturers’ or dentist’s instructions carefully – leaving products on for longer than recommended or skipping steps in the treatment can all have adverse effects.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe? Ask The Professionals
The best way to know if something is right for you is to have an experienced, qualified dentist check your teeth and advise on your smile goals and circumstances. If you’ve got questions about teeth whitening or hope to whiten and brighten your smile, book an appointment with My Local Dentists West Ryde team or call us on (02) 9000 2183 today.
ABC: Net – 50 Shades Whiter: What You Should Know About Teeth Whitening
Colgate – Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
ADA.Org – Teeth whitening: Surging popularity brings issues to resolve
Healthline – Is Teeth Whitening Safe?