Is Teeth Whitening Harmful to Your Oral Health?

It’s estimated that 45 million Americans have had their teeth professionally whitened. This number doesn’t include those who have tried over-the-counter teeth whitening products for their smiles.

With so many people receiving a professional whitening treatment, it’s natural to wonder how this procedure affects your teeth and gums. For those who want a whiter smile and are considering teeth whitening, is this procedure harmful to your oral health?

Teeth Whitening Is Considered Safe and Effective

When done correctly, teeth whitening is considered to be a safe procedure [1]. Dentists have developed teeth whitening to be an effective treatment that poses minimal risk to teeth. While dentists use a higher concentration of the whitening agent than at-home bleaching kits, these are trained professionals who have done many teeth whitening procedures and know how to keep your smile protected during the entire whitening process.

Some of the minor risks for teeth whitening include temporary heightened tooth sensitivity following the procedure. If you already have sensitive teeth, it’s important to let your dentist know so that you can discuss what protective measures to take to ensure the safety of your smile.

Using Store-Bought Kits Is Riskier

If you’re using store-bought kits to whiten your teeth, the risk to your oral health is going to be higher than getting your teeth professionally whitened at the dentist office.

When using these kits, the whitening agent is more likely to come into contact with your gum tissue, which can cause gum irritation and inflammation. At the dentist office, your gums and the soft tissues of your mouth are fully protected before the whitening process begins.

There’s also the risk to overuse the kits and cause tooth sensitivity. Many people want a white smile for an upcoming event such as a graduation, a wedding, or a job interview. Unfortunately, many people to overuse the kits to accelerate the whitening process which can strip tooth enamel and cause permanent tooth sensitivity.

Professional Care Is Always Best

Your dentist will always take the utmost precautions to protect your teeth during your professional whitening procedure. When done by an experienced dentist, teeth whitening doesn’t pose any serious risks to your smile.

Most side effects—such as tooth sensitivity—are temporary and will last a few hours to a few days after your appointment. Any extreme pain or sensitivity you experience should be reported to your dentist so you can follow up.

Many dentists will even conduct a fluoride treatment following your whitening procedure to ensure that tooth sensitivity is kept to a minimum. Fluoride has been shown to be an effective treatment for patients who experience sensitivity following teeth whitening [2].

It’s also important to note that teeth whitening is not recommended for children by The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry [3].

Considering Teeth Whitening?

Proven to be safe for teeth, a professional teeth whitening isn’t harmful to your oral health. Like any procedure, it’s not without its risks; however, talking with your experienced oral healthcare professional about your teeth whitening procedure can help ensure that this is the best treatment for you based on your goals for your smile!