Potential Dangers of Teeth Whitening

A bright, white smile is considered by most to be a very attractive attribute. This likely has something to do with the fact that food, age, and other factors naturally cause teeth to yellow and stain over time. As a result, youth and good health are commonly associated with whiter teeth. Plus, a white smile can give you confidence and brighten up your whole face (maybe because you beam a little more broadly when you know your teeth look awesome). And because having whiter teeth has become a cosmetic priority for many people, there are myriad treatments on the market, including professional grade whitening options offered at your dentist's office, as well as over-the-counter products that claim to deliver a brighter smile. But you are probably already aware of the benefits of whitening your teeth; what you may not know are the potential dangers involved in what amounts to putting bleach in your mouth. So here are just a few possible side effects you'll want to watch out for.

The first problem that many people face when it comes to whitening their teeth is pain, and the level of discomfort depends largely on the patient. For most people, a 1-2 week course of treatment (via bleaching trays, strips, gel, and so on) is accompanied by mild or moderate discomfort, often entirely treatable with low doses of ibuprofen. But for some people the mouth pain is nearly unbearable, causing them to give up on the treatment partway through. The cause of this is peroxide. In order to whiten teeth (rather than just removing surface stains like a whitening toothpaste, for example), the bleach must penetrate the dentin in the tooth, a soft substance that tends to yellow over time. When this occurs, nerve endings can become irritated, causing a sensation of pain. Nearly everyone will feel some sensitivity or discomfort during bleaching, but for some people the pain could be unbearable. And the 1-hour laser treatments have a much higher likelihood of pain because of the intensity required to bleach teeth several shades within such a short period of time.

However, you could face more serious issues while in search of a whiter smile. Bleach can irritate all kinds of soft tissue in the mouth, but this mainly tends to affect gums (since they border the teeth being bleached). In extreme cases this can go beyond irritation, causing bleeding and potentially even leading to a receding gum line. This generally won't occur unless a person is over-bleaching, but people who fail to follow guidelines pertaining to the amount of bleaching to undergo in a single treatment or the amount of time to wait between treatments may experience not only gum problems, but also teeth that become weirdly discolored, appearing almost blue or gray rather than white after extensive bleaching.

Your best bet to avoid these teeth whitening snafus is to consult with your dentist in Bellevue, Bismarck, Birmingham, or wherever you currently reside. A dental professional can offer recommendations based on your desired level of whitening and your ability to deal with sensitivity, or he can refer you to an appropriate cosmetic dentist to address your needs. He may even be able to tell you which OTC products are preferable. And he can almost certainly offer further information concerning the risks and benefits of bleaching your teeth so that you can make an informed decision.

(Guest Post by Carol)

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  1. Kaveri10:37 AM

    If you accidentally swallow some of the whitening gel it can cause nausea, vomiting or stomach upset.

  2. Arpita10:38 AM

    the peroxide in the gel can make the teeth sensitive to hot or cold liquids, or even result in pain.

  3. Dr ARVIND10:39 AM

    The fruit acids in lemon juice and strawberries while can help remove tooth stains, weaken the enamel on your teeth and make them more susceptible to cavities.

  4. Informative article, just what I was looking for.


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