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Is Whitening Bad for my Teeth?

There are lots of things that are deemed “bad” for your teeth: sugar, coffee, soda. But, what about teeth whitening?

How Teeth Whitening Works

Both at-home and in-office teeth whitening options use peroxide-based bleaching agents. At-home systems contain from 3-20% peroxide (carbamide or hydrogen peroxides). In-office systems, like you would get from your dentist or orthodontist, contain from 15-43% peroxide. The stronger the solution – and the longer you keep it on your teeth – the whiter your teeth become. Heat, light, or a combination of the two may also be used to speed and intensify the brightening process.

The Possible Risks

Whitening teeth is very common and generally safe, as long as you use the product as directed or the whitening is performed by a dental professional. However, there can be risks and symptoms to watch out for.

  • Keeping bleaching gel on your teeth and gums for too long can dehydrate teeth and increase tooth sensitivity. 
  • When used incorrectly, home kits can actually lead to burned, even temporarily bleached, gums.
  • The most common symptom of teeth whitening is short term tooth sensitivity, especially if you have sensitivity to begin with.
  • While orthodontics and dentistry works for people of all ages, those under 14 should refrain from using teeth whitener.

In order to avoid these kinds of issues, it’s important to remember:

  • The higher the percentage of peroxide in the whitening solution, the shorter it should be applied.
  • Healthier gums and teeth are safer to brighten, so get checked out by your dentist first. They will look for cavities and check the health of your gums and correct any issues before whitening.
  • Decide if you’re doing an at-home treatment or working with your dentist or orthodontist for an in-office treatment. Just like with clear aligners, it’s important to research which option works best for you.

Benefits of Teeth Whitening

Though this may seem obvious (better-looking teeth, duh!), the benefits of teeth whitening go deeper than you’d think.

  • Increased confidence is one common side effect of having brighter teeth.
  • You’ll likely find yourself smiling more to show off your whiter teeth, which has benefits of its own. Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a recent study.
  • Post-braces, a teeth whitening treatment will help your new smile shine even brighter!
  • It’s affordable! As is the case with braces, there are affordable options for teeth whitening. Check with your dentist or orthodontist for their recommendation.

The Verdict

All things considered, whitening is not bad for your teeth, as long as you are following all the directions and not overusing the product, or keeping the product on your teeth for longer than instructed. If you’re curious about the next steps to a brighter smile, be sure to ask our office about teeth brightening recommendations!