Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
Teeth whitening is becoming one of the most requested treatments at dentist offices across Canada, but as the popularity of the treatment continues to grow there are some that wonder how safe the treatment really is. In this post we explore how teeth whitening works and how safe clinical studies and scientific research have determined it is.
How Teeth Whitening Works
To understand how teeth whitening works, it’s helpful to understand the anatomy of a tooth. Check out our Understanding the Anatomy of Teeth post to learn about teeth from the inside out, but what’s not in that article is that the enamel coating on the outside of your teeth is actually porous.
When you chew, tiny molecules of food can penetrate the microscopic sized holes in the enamel, causing staining on the teeth. Certain foods like coffee and tea, dark coloured soft drinks and candies, berries and red wine are notorious for staining teeth because the particles that get trapped in the enamel are so dark in colour and lead to more noticeable staining.
Teeth whiteners work by bleaching the enamel. Most teeth whitening products use a peroxide based bleach such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. The strength of the peroxide can vary between products, but in general at-home teeth whitening kits contain 3 – 20% peroxide while teeth whitening products offered by your dentist use a stronger 15 – 43% bleach.
The peroxide gel is squeezed into a tray that you wear on your teeth for a period of time and the peroxide in the gel simply bleaches the colour pigment out of any molecules trapped in your enamel, whitening the colour of your teeth.
At-home kits require daily application lasting anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. If you’re looking for a faster option, products such as the Philips Zoom whitening system, which are administered at your dentist’s office, use a special light to accelerate the bleaching process. A single in-office treatment can be done in less than an hour and usually yields better results – up to eight shades whiter in a single 45 minute treatment.
The Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
Many years of dental research and clinical studies have shown that teeth whitening is a completely safe procedure if performed properly.
In the past, some people have experienced a slight increase in tooth sensitivity. This is caused by the enamel on the tooth becoming dehydrated, but this is only a temporary side effect that goes away within a day or two of the final treatment.
As teeth whitening products have evolved, manufacturers have perfected the balance of bleach strength and application duration, making any side effects of teeth whitening less frequent. Furthermore, most whitening products recommend brushing with a fluoride rich toothpaste to help re-mineralize the teeth or a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
If you’re thinking about whitening your teeth but you’re a bit apprehensive about starting, book a consultation. We can explain the whole process and alleviate any concerns you have, making teeth whitening a comfortable and positive experience for you. Plus, we offer a full range of dental services for the entire family. Call our Scarborough dentist office at (416) 291 – 0306 or our Milton dentist office at (905) 636 – 9770 to book an appointment and let’s get started!