Is it safe to have your teeth whitened?

With teeth whitening becoming more prevalent, you may have considered undergoing the process yourself, but is it actually safe for your teeth? Here is a rundown of the various teeth whitening options. and the associated risks for your teeth.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Having your teeth professionally whitened means that the procedure is carried out by a General Dental Council registered dentist. This can happen either in the dental practice, or with a take-home kit. Professional teeth whitening uses regulated, prescription-only gels to whiten your teeth and, if used incorrectly, can cause pain, burning of the gums and tongue, sensitivity, and permanent damage to the surface of the teeth.

Over-The-Counter Teeth Whitening Kits

Using an over-the-counter teeth whitening kit, compared with professional teeth whitening, is more likely to cause damage to your teeth. In 2019, the British Dental Association warned that many of these kits did not declare the precise chemicals that make up these kits, while a study in the British Dental Journal found that sodium chlorite, the active ingredient found in some of these kits, could “significantly reduce the hardness of teeth and increase the likelihood for future surface abrasions of the teeth’’. Some DIY teeth whitening kits have even been found to contain as much as 33% hydrogen peroxide, high levels of which can cause mouth infections, blistering, burns, gum-shrinking, nerve damage, and damage to tooth enamel.

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste usually contains abrasives that gently polish the teeth, or chemicals (such as peroxide) that work to break down stains on the surface of your teeth. These toothpastes are safe to use, but you should ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the quantity and frequency of use.

Natural Methods

Many ‘natural’, do-it-yourself methods of teeth whitening can be found online. One such option which poses a low risk to your teeth is the use of coconut oil. Another option is using charcoal to brush your teeth. However, this can cause erosion of the enamel on your teeth, potentially leading to problems such as sensitivity and decay. Combinations of bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice are also suggested, but there is little research to suggest whether this practice is safe for your teeth or not.

Are you ready for a whiter, brighter smile?