Is Whitening Bad For Your Teeth?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

While stained or discolored teeth may not damage your health, they certainly don’t look too great. The good news is that whitening your teeth can be a very safe option, as long as you use the proper method. You should carefully consider whether to pursue a professional cleaning or an at-home whitening technique.

Whitening is not bad for teeth, as long as the proper methods are used in moderation. However, frequent whitening can damage your teeth and erode the enamel. Professional whitening is the safest method, but at-home kits are an inexpensive and convenient option that some may prefer.

Factors such as age, dental history, and what type of coloration is affecting your teeth are important to consider when choosing between professional whitening and an at-home treatment. It’s always best to consult with a dentist before you decide how to proceed. Let’s take a look at the options.

Is Whitening Bad For Your Teeth?

Teeth Whitening Using Black Charcoal Toothpaste at Home

No one wants to walk around with oddly colored or stained teeth, but early research has shown that whitening products can potentially roughen the tooth’s surface, and the hydrogen peroxide present in whitening products can also damage the tooth’s dentin layer.

For this reason, whitening needs to be done with care, and you’ll want to pause and consider all the options available to you. The primary methods are: teeth whitening administered by a dentist, a whitening kit dispensed by your dentist for home use, or an over-the-counter or home-made product.

Dental whitening can easily cost a few hundred dollars just to start, so it’s understandable that options like Crest 3D Whitestrips (on Amazon) are so popular at their much friendlier price points.

As you work toward a decision, consider the following:

  • Type of stains or discoloration your teeth have
  • Cost
  • Method of treatment
  • Age
  • Your dental history (any crowns, fillings, implants etc.)

It’s critical to consult with your dentist and consider the above factors before choosing how to proceed with whitening your teeth.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the time it takes to get your teeth whitened using any of the aforementioned methods can vary according to the type and severity of your teeth stains and discoloration.

How Can Whitening Damage Your Teeth?

While teeth whitening shouldn’t damage your teeth when done in moderation, continuous and frequent whitening can potentially damage the enamel and dentin on your teeth.

The dentin is the portion of your tooth which is responsible for coloring. During the whitening process, your teeth are first coated with a whitening solution that ultimately travels to your dentin, through the enamel.

Frequent whitening can therefore harm your dentin and eventually start to deteriorate your teeth’s enamel. This process can leave the teeth exposed to the harmful acids and bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria can cause cavities, tooth erosion, and gum infections.

And if you already have cavities present, whitening can exacerbate the conditions and cause painful tooth aches.

The best way to be safe when whitening your teeth is to consult your dentist on whether you should go for a professional cleaning or at-home cleaning (or any whitening at all, for that matter).

Further ways to avoid tooth discoloration and stains is to brush your teeth and floss regularly, limit or quit smoking, and control the amount of stain offenders you consume, such as coffee or red wine.

What Is the Safest Way to Whiten Teeth?

There are two main methods of safely whitening your teeth. You can either have them whitened professionally or use whitening products at home. For the most effective and safe way, you should have your teeth whitened professionally.

Having your teeth whitened professionally offers instant results, and it’s the safest option, since it’s done by a dentist in the dentist’s office. With that said, professional teeth whitening can be expensive and some may consider it an inconvenient option.

For a more inexpensive method, your next best option is to use at-home products. However, when it comes to at-home products, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are some things to look out for:

Check for ADA Seal of Approval

You can find this seal on whitening toothpastes, as well as numerous bleaching products. The ADA (American Dental Association) seal ensures safe and effective products that have been tested independently.

Follow Instructions on the Label

Products vary in usage; therefore, it’s important to follow the instructions given. Some products are to be used once a day, while others can be used twice a day or more.

Following the given instructions ensures most effective results and safety.

Consult Your Dentist

Before using any of the at-home products, it’s recommended that you consult your dentist. Your dentist can help you understand your needs best and even recommend the best products to use.

What Are the Best At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits?

There is a wide variety of options to pick from when it comes to at-home whitening kits. Most at-home teeth whitening kits contain safe levels of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (a similar but weaker agent).

Most at-home teeth whitening kits can contain anywhere from 5 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide, or they may contain 35% carbamide peroxide. These can be applied to the teeth for anywhere from 10 to 30 mins on multiple days.

However, you should be careful when it comes to the level of hydrogen peroxide in your at-home cleaning products.

Anything containing more than 5-10% of hydrogen peroxide or more than 30% carbamide peroxide can be dangerous and may lead to gum infection and irritation. Here are some of the best at-home whitening kits:

Snow All-In-One Whitening Kit

A young woman is engaged in home teeth whitening

The Snow All-In-One Whitening Kit (on Amazon) is widely considered as the overall best and an all-around good option when it comes to at-home whitening kits. The Snow kit is approved by dentists and also designed for sensitive teeth. Furthermore, it’s safe for gums and doesn’t harm your tooth’s enamel.

The application process is simple and only takes 9 minutes. According to Snow, 97% of their customers see immediate effects after just a single use.

hismile PAP+ Teeth Whitening Kit

For those with especially sensitive teeth, the hismile PAP+ Kit (on Amazon) is the kit for you. This kit uses 3 ingredients that are strong and enamel safe.

These ingredients are Hydroxyapatite (nHAp), which helps rebuild the protective layer on your teeth; Phthalimidoperoxycaproicacid (PAP), which is proven to help gum sensitivity and irritation; and Potassium citrate, which also helps relieve sensitivity.

AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit

The AuraGlow Kit (on Amazon) is the way to go if you’re on a strict budget. The AuraGlow kit uses gluten-free and vegan-friendly ingredients. All in all, you can whiten your teeth in just 30 minutes every day with this product.

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