There’s no question, teeth whitening brings many benefits. Whiter teeth can make you look youthful, feel more attractive and boost your confidence. You have many options when it comes to brightening your smile. You can elect to use store-bought whitening toothpaste and strips, baking soda, at-home teeth-whitening kits, and in-office dental methods.
Teeth-whitening became popular in the 1980s and has since ballooned to a multi-billion dollar industry. According to the market research group Arizton, the teeth-whitening industry is expected to grow up to almost $8 billion between 2021 and 2026.
As you elevate your options for brightening your smile, you may be curious as to whether teeth-whitening is safe? In general, teeth whitening is considered safe, providing the person who is performing the whitening follows the directions. Like any procedure, teeth whitening comes with risks like increased tooth sensitivity and allergic reactions.
Here’s a look at some DIY teeth-whitening methods and their risks.
Are Teeth-Whitening Toothpastes Safe?
Yes, it’s safe to use teeth-whitening toothpaste, provided you follow instructions and don’t swallow the toothpaste. These kinds of toothpastes contain a whitening agent such as hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, or blue covarine, all of which are safe to use if you follow the product directions.
Dentists and manufacturers often recommend against using teeth-whitening types of toothpaste long-term, especially those that have abrasives. Although these products don’t pose any life-threatening harm, they can increase teeth sensitivity. In fact, none of these teeth-whitening toothpastes are intended for long-term use. Before using, read packaging labels, warnings, instructions, or speak with your dentist.
A large amount of research shows over-the-counter teeth-whitening toothpaste will lighten the color of your teeth by one shade. Toothpaste containing “activated charcoal” is a newcomer to the market, but according to Healthline, these types of toothpaste lack evidence that they work, and the risks are unknown.
Are Teeth Whitening Strips and Gels Safe?
You can buy low strength whitening strips and gels over the counter or higher-strength products from dental practices. The formula for these types of teeth whitening products contains peroxide. However, you can find peroxide-free whitening gel, the preferable, natural option, online.
Teeth-whitening strips and gels prove more effective than toothpaste because you must leave them on for longer periods and they contain more whitening agents. The two risks that come with strips and gels are tooth sensitivity and gum (gingiva) irritation. Most dentists recommend testing the whitening product on an area before using the products across your full mouth.
Although both of these teeth-whitening products are safe if you use them as prescribed. Do not use any teeth-whitening strips or gels if you have dental issues, like gum disease or cavities. Never use a teeth-whitening product without first consulting with your dentist.
Is Teeth Bleaching Safe?
For the record, teeth bleaching doesn’t contain bleach — it is a process that lightens your teeth color, by typically using a whitening agent like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Some also contain blue covarine, an ingredient that leaves a temporary thin layer over the teeth to lighten them.
The Cleveland Clinic cites studies that suggest long-term use of teeth-whitening products could be harmful to your teeth. However, those studies were performed in a lab, not on living teeth.
Like other teeth-whitening methods, teeth bleaching products are safe, providing you use them as directed and you do not have dental issues like gum disease.
What About Teeth Whitening Trays?
Teeth whitening trays fit over your mouth and must stay in place for several hours; some require overnight use. Like most teeth whitening products discussed above, the key to teeth-whitening safety is following the directions.
First, see your dentist to rule out teeth-whitening contraindications such as cavities and gum disease. Then, follow the teeth-whitener tray instructions. If the directions specify you leave the product on for only 4 hours, do not leave it on for longer than 4 hours. If you start to notice any tooth sensitivity or inflammation, stop using the product.
What Are the Risks Associated With DIY Teeth Whitening?
While most people do not experience any side effects when they use a teeth-whitening method, those you should watch out for include:
● Tooth sensitivity
● Gum sensitivity
● Tooth discoloration (over bleaching)
● Lack of results
If you notice any of these or other side effects you find concerning, such as mouth pain or sores, stop using the teeth-whitening product and contact your dentist.