How Safe is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is an increasingly common practice among people who want a bright, white smile that gives them confidence. There are many methods to whiten your teeth, including at home kits, dental office procedures, and more. But is teeth whitening really safe?

In general, yes, modern teeth whitening is safe due to innovations in whitening techniques and technology that have taken the process a long way in the past 2 decades. both inside and outside the dentist’s office. Modern, professional methods for whitening teeth are much better and safer than products which were popular 20 or even 10 years ago.

The former formulas commonly used for teeth whitening used to result in significant increases in tooth sensitivity for long periods of time. However, tooth whitening using modern methods (yes, even at-home tray methods!) results in very little increased sensitivity; and when increased sensitivity after teeth whitening does occur, it is usually lessened after 48 hours and will go away completely once the teeth whitening sessions are ended.

Eliminating Tooth Sensitivity with Teeth Whitening

If you are one of the people who do find themselves with increased tooth sensitivity in the 48 hours after getting your teeth whitening, then you can do several things to help eliminate the sensitivity following tooth whitening.

  • Wear your tooth whitening tray for a shorter period of time (if using a tray method)
  • Use a toothpaste that is designed for sensitive teeth and features potassium nitrate; this will help soothe nerve endings and reduce sensitivity and discomfort
  • Ask your dentist about using fluoride products to help re-mineralize your teeth, and use these products four minutes before and four minutes after whitening your teeth
  • Cease whitening your teeth for a few days in order to allow your teeth time to adjust to the whitening procedures; as you gradually begin to use your teeth whitening products more often, your teeth will gradually adjust along with them and become less sensitive to the whitening trays

If you still experience sensitivity after following the above advice, ask your dentist about what you can do to reduce sensitivity after using whitening products.

When to Not Whiten Your Teeth

In some cases, your dentist may not recommend that you whiten your teeth, regardless of the method you will be using. As a general rule, do not whiten your teeth if:

  • You have cavities
  • You have gum disease
  • You have worn down tooth enamel
  • Your teeth are already sensitive
  • You are pregnant
  • You are breastfeeding
  • You have tooth-coloured crowns/caps/dental pieces in your front teeth

If you are unsure as to whether or not whitening your teeth is acceptable for you, consult your dentist and ask for their opinion. If possible, bring the whitening product you plan to use to the office so that they can see the ingredients, ingredient strength/concentration, as well as the method for whitening. This will help them make a more informed decision about whether or not it is safe or advisable for you to use teeth whitening products. Be sure to contact our helpful team at Oxford Family Dental for any of your teeth whitening or dental questions.

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