Is whitening harmful to your teeth

Dentist Office in Raytown and Pleasant Hill, Missouri

            In today's society it seems that appearances are more important to people than every before. We live in a world in which first impressions are tremendously important, and as they say you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  As a consequence we have seen a sharp rise in the past few decades for the demand for cosmetic medical and dental procedures. Med Spas are opening left and right as Americans seek to keep that youthful appearance through cosmetic enhancements. Among the most commoncosmetic dental procedures is teeth whitening, a process that is relatively inexpensive and pain free.  Yet, concerns still seem to exist among patients, does whitening damage my teeth?  The answer is an emphatic, NO!

           Teeth whitening can be accomplished by purchasing over-the-counter products at your pharmacy, such as Crest White Strips, or professionally at your dental office.  The dental office will generally perform in-office whitening using a special UV light and/or fabricate custom bleach trays for you to use at home.  A small amount of bleach gel is applied to these clear plastic trays at home, and worn for a specific amount of time as instructed by your dentist.  As a general rule, professional whitening at your dentist is more effective and usually a bit more expensive.  To date, this author is unaware of conclusive data regarding the effectiveness of whitening toothpastes or mouth washes.  Whitening toothpastes work solely to remove surface staining, and it seems unlikely any bleaching actually occurs due to the short duration the toothpaste is in contact with the tooth surface

             Although teeth whitening can cause temporary sensitivity, no evidence suggests whitening causes damage to the teeth in any manner.  Professional teeth whitening should only be performed in conjunction with a licensed dentist.  Several years ago after various whitening clinics began to pop up at malls and other locations, the Missouri Dental Board ruled that whitening constituted the practice of dentistry, and thus could only be performed on patients under the supervision of a dentist.  The most common side effect of teeth whitening is sensitivity, and it is this side effect which causes many to question whether the damage to the teeth occurs.  The sensitivity is caused by irritation of the dentinal tubules, small canals found in the inner portion of the tooth.  Fortunately, the sensitivity is always transient, and will resolve with less frequent bleach use, and/or sensitvity toothpaste. If sensitivity does persist, a dentist can provide for you teeth bleach that is less potent and contains potassium nitrate, the active ingredient in anti-sensitivity tooth paste. 

             If you would like to discuss bleaching your teeth, please give your Raytown dentist a call at 816-358-0800.