Can Teeth Whitening Be Dangerous?

Oct 27, 2017

“Can Teeth Whitening Be Dangerous??”

We are often asked this question when patients are considering teeth bleaching. Australians are not far behind the Americans in the pursuit of that “Hollywood Smile”. As we age, the foods we eat and the drinks we consume (as well as smoking) can cause teeth to stain and take on a more yellow tinge. If you find it challenging trying to naturally keep your pearly whites bright (as suggested in our previous blog), you can try the next most conservative way to brighten your smile: bleaching is one of the most requested cosmetic procedures in the dental office. “But is it safe?” I hear you ask.

A Small Caveat Before We Begin

Moderation is the key to everything! However, there is a fallacy to dispel. There are those who are worried that teeth whitening will damage their enamel, but research has shown overwhelming evidence that when used as directed, bleaching does not cause permanent damage to teeth or gums.

Before considering teeth whitening, it is best to go for a thorough check-up and clean. Not only will this give your teeth the best chance to get the desired results, it will allow any cavities, broken fillings, etc. to be detected and treated so as to minimise any tooth sensitivity and damage to the roots or nerve of the teeth.

The Side Effects

The side effects of teeth whitening are:

  • Tooth sensitivity;
  • Gum irritation;
  • Blueish enamel; and
  • Uneven whiteness.

If too much bleaching product is used, it can seep through a cracked tooth, or a broken filling or cavity, which can cause nerve damage. Apart from that, all the other side effects listed above usually clear up within two weeks of ceasing to use the chemicals.

As long as you keep your expectations realistic and understand these chemicals are strong and need to be handled with care, the procedure is safe. The best approach is to heed the advice of your dentist or the product label and keep some perspective. Self-control is the key to reducing the side effects of teeth whitening. Do not go overboard.

How It Works

Teeth whitening kits prescribed by a dentist would contain enough gel for a 2-week treatment per year. This may include enough for a 1-day or 2-day “touch-up” every 6 months if required. This will help you curb the desire to have that overly-white bleached look, which can look unnatural. Do not supplement this treatment with an over-the-counter teeth bleaching product in the interim as this can result in gum irritation and sensitive teeth, and it also increases the risk of teeth translucency.

While bleaching, do not consume dark-coloured foods or drinks such as tea, coffee, red wine, and dark berries. Definitely avoid smoking during the bleaching period. Be sure to brush thoroughly after consuming dark-coloured foods/drinks or you can wash your mouth out with water (which will help prevent staining). This will ensure you’ll add a few more months to your bleaching results and keep you smiling!