Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

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You can get discolored or stained teeth due to a variety of factors. You can safely whiten them to make them brighter and whiter. There are various treatments available. Moreover, you can get whitening treatments from your dentist or use at-home whitening solutions. While teeth whitening has specific adverse effects, most traditional whitening treatments are safe to use as long as you follow the product's guidelines.


How do teeth become discolored?


Extrinsic staining


  • Extrinsic discoloration is when foods, beverages, or smoking habits stain your teeth. These stains are visible on the outside of your teeth. Coffee, tea, red wine, dye-containing foods, and tobacco can all cause this type of staining.
  • Whitening toothpaste that targets outer spots on the teeth can treat extrinsic discoloration.


Intrinsic staining


  • Intrinsic discoloration occurs inside the tooth. Use of medication, childhood illness, infection, dental trauma, or aging can produce inherent discoloration.
  • Intrinsic discoloration may require professional bleaching to achieve the same or better tooth whiteness.


Teeth whitening options


There are different treatments available to whiten your teeth. However, sometimes you get confused about which products to use and which are safe. The following are three general types of whitening procedures, which are:


  • Provided by your dentist
  • Dispensed by your dentist for home usage
  • Obtained over the counter or produced at home without your dentist's supervision


You may select a method for teeth whitening depending on one or more aspects, such as:


  • The sort of discoloration you have
  • The cost of treatment
  • Your age (this pertains to children)
  • Your dental history, including crowns and fillings


You'll probably go over a couple of different methods for whitening your teeth. Before attempting any whitening procedure, consult with your dentist. Your dentist can prescribe a treatment plan according to your specific needs.


However, remember that the time it takes to whiten your teeth properly varies depending on the type of discoloration and the treatment you choose.


Professional teeth whitening


Your dentist can whiten your teeth in the clinic or at home in various ways. In general, they will bleach your teeth with carbamide peroxide. In a chemical reaction, this degrades to hydrogen peroxide and urea and targets the tooth's color. It is regarded as a risk-free method of tooth whitening.


  • In-office treatment


Dentists recommend in-office treatments when you have receding gums. Because it works quickly, an in-office whitening procedure can be advantageous. The whitening effect may remain longer as well. You may require an hour of treatment or a few visits to whiten your teeth. This is due to the higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the applied goods than in the products you use at home.


Your dentist may also utilize light when administering the whitening treatment to your teeth to speed up the procedure, but this method is not always proven effective.


  • At-home treatment by your dentist


Dentists can also advise you on home teeth whitening methods. Your dentist will make you custom-fit trays. To whiten your teeth, add gel to it and wear the tray for 30 minutes to 1 hour per day (as prescribed by your dentist) for a few weeks.


Whitening products and other at-home methods


You can use over-the-counter (OTC) whitening solutions to treat discolored teeth. Unlike products recommended by a dentist, these products contain no or considerably less carbamide peroxide than products used by dentists. Therefore, if your teeth are naturally stained, over-the-counter whiteners may not work well or take longer to whiten.


Moreover, some over-the-counter medications bear the American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance. However, not all products have this seal, and some without it are still safe to use, but this seal gives you more confidence when making purchasing decisions and ensuring the safety of what you're using. Most importantly, always follow the manufacturer's directions when using a product.


  • Whitening toothpaste


Carbamide peroxide is not used in whitening toothpaste. Instead, whitening toothpaste contains abrasives and chemicals to target the surface of your teeth in these toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste may take time to work, but those containing blue covarine may be effective after just one brush because the chemical causes your teeth to seem whiter.


  • Whitening stripes


You can also buy over-the-counter tooth whitening strips. These contain less hydrogen peroxide than professional products. You apply them to your teeth once or twice a day for the duration specified by the manufacturer.


Several whitening strip options are available, each with a different concentration of bleaching ingredient.


  • Activated charcoal


There are homemade methods to whiten your teeth. One such treatment is activated charcoal. However, these teeth-whitening treatments are not scientifically proven. Therefore, it is essential to consult a dentist before using it. If you employ these treatments without contacting a dentist, you risk damaging your teeth.


Side effects of teeth whitening


Many dentists consider teeth whitening safe, but you may encounter the following adverse effects:


  1. Sensitivity of the teeth: Your teeth may become more sensitive after whitening. Your dentist may advise you to treat sensitivity with potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride gel. Sensitivity occurs during your first or second treatment and may fade with time.
  2. Irritated gums: Your gums can get inflamed after teeth whitening. This can happen if the whitening product comes into touch with your gums. This side effect should subside after your treatment. Gingival irritation is also possible.


Furthermore, keep in mind that you cannot permanently whiten your teeth. You'll need to seek whitening procedures regularly for external and intrinsic discoloration. Most importantly, if you have implants, crowns, bridges, or dentures, you should consult your dentist about how to match the color of your teeth. Remember that these products are only for natural teeth.


Teeth whitening procedures may not be appropriate for you if you have active cavities or are undergoing dental work.


Maintaining the results


Your eating, drinking, and dental hygiene habits affect the duration of your teeth whitening results. After completing any whitening treatment, your teeth are still vulnerable to discoloration from liquids such as tea, coffee, and certain meals. Rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth quickly after eating or drinking helps prevent these discoloring toxins from settling into the surface of your teeth and reduces plaque buildup.




Whitening your teeth is safe as long as you use dentist-approved methods. Use the best way to suit your needs and always adhere to the product's instructions. If you encounter any side effects, contact your dentist.


Contact your Pinole dentist, Dr. Hoss Abar, DDS, MSD, at Abar Orthodontics to know more about teeth whitening.




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This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition.

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