When visiting our office, many patients often ask us how they can improve their smile beyond the general care of brushing and flossing. The most common and least invasive answer to this question is teeth whitening. Some patients feel wary about bleaching because of its potential effect on enamel after prolonged treatments. Read on to find out how safe bleaching your teeth actually is.
What active ingredients are found in whitening products?
The two most common ingredients found in teeth whitening products are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. When applied to your teeth, either agent will break down the stains which results in a brighter looking smile. While this sounds like a process that would be tough on your pearly whites, dentists have long studied the effects of bleaching and the side effects are minimal.
So, what are the side effects?
According to dental professionals at Colgate, dentists have found the three most common effects are teeth sensitivity, gum irritation, or irritated restorations.
Teeth sensitivity is the most common side effect of bleaching but it doesn’t always occur. If it does, it is recommended to use a tooth brush, tooth paste, and mouthwash designed for sensitive teeth. If irritation persists it may be best to discontinue whitening and resume at a later time, or to stop altogether.
Gum irritation can occur in individuals who accidentally get bleach on the gums while doing a treatment in or out of the office. Luckily, once the bleach is removed from teeth, the gums will heal on their own. This is more likely to occur when using higher amounts of bleach, which may be the case when using stronger products provided by your dental office.
The least common of the three are irritated restorations. There have been some reported instances of silver fillings being eroded which can cause them to release mercury, but it is not common as silver fillings are no longer used in dental restoration practices.
Should you whiten your teeth?
It is ultimately up to you whether or not you want to brighten your smile. On the whole, the side effects are minimal with little to no irritation after treatments. While there are plenty of over the counter whitening products available at drugstores, we still recommend coming in to get a full evaluation of your teeth to identify if you are at risk of experiencing any of the side effects mentioned above.