Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

An individual’s smile is said to be one of the most appealing features, and that explains why everyone, irrespective of gender, wants to have a great set of white teeth. There exist several different ways of getting whiter teeth. The term ‘teeth whitening’ however, is a very subjective term. In a broad sense, it refers to simple cleaning of the teeth, i.e. removing all the calculus and tartar present on teeth. However, it can also be used in reference to one of the several treatment options for beautification of smile that comes under the category of cosmetic dentistry.

The most common method that people employ for teeth whitening is bleaching or using teeth whitening products at home. To understand the possible harmful effects that these teeth whitening products can have on the oral health, one needs to understand how they act in the first place.

How do Teeth Whitening Products Work?

We all know that teeth whitening products and agents tend to work with the help of chemicals and not with the help of active abrasives. These agents react with stains that are embedded inside your teeth. These stains are present deep inside your teeth, usually in the layer which is known as dentin, and hence are not cleaned by brushing or by superficial cleaning of the teeth. They form plugs inside the dentinal tubules, and the bleaching agents tend to remove these plugs to clean the teeth and give them the pearl white appearance.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe for Everyone?

There are several factors that one needs to take into consideration when opting for teeth whitening by bleaching. While many people would go unhurt after resorting to this procedure, the chances of complications cannot be ruled out. The second layer of teeth, which is the dentin, is a layer that has a natural yellow hue to it. If people have teeth that appear to be slightly yellowish in color due to decreased thickness of their teeth – which can be attributed to slight exposure of dentin, then it does not make sense to opt for bleaching as it won’t lighten the color of teeth, but instead will make the teeth more sensitive.

Another problem which has given this procedure a bad name is dental sensitivity. The chances of an individual experiencing sensitivity in teeth when opting for teeth whitening at home exist in plenty, but one has to make a note of the fact that this sensitivity is attributed to the removal of dentinal plugs by the whitening agent, and that doesn’t mean that the teeth has been damaged permanently. The severity of sensitivity that will be seen will depend on many factors – like the condition and thickness of teeth, the frequency of bleaching, the time duration for which the bleaching tray is kept in place.

Are the Chemicals in Teeth Whitening Products Safe?

Also, the chemicals present in teeth whitening agents don’t cause wear of the enamel. Many of these agents also contain fluoride compounds so as to compensate for any loss of enamel. People that use teeth whitening agents very often may even be prescribed fluoride compounds by their dentist to make up for the effects of the chemicals. If the bleaching trays are not used properly, then it may lead to problems like gum irritation and problems with soft tissues, but this is quite an avoidable side effect, provided the method employed for teeth whitening is proper.

The difference between teeth whitening products that are available today, as against to those that were available a few years ago is that these teeth whitening products are more sophisticated and the chemicals used in them are not as harsh as those that were used previously. That teeth whitening products can cause cancer as they contain carbamide peroxide, is one of the most ludicrous claims that you are likely to come across. While this chemical is documented as being harmful, it cannot cause gum cancer as was previously thought – because the amount of this chemical is very less and our saliva has the ability to do away with it with ease.

At the end of the day, teeth whitening, if done properly and in moderation does not have any long-lasting side effects. However, to be on the safer side, it is always wise to ask your dentist to guide you on how to go about this procedure, for optimum results.