Sick of discolored, yellow or stained teeth?

(If not, why are you reading an article about teeth whitening?!)

It’s okay, it happens to the best of us. There are a number of reasons teeth get that way. Some are reasons you can control – drinking red wine, smoking, eating certain foods, etc. Discoloration due to these reasons may be treated using over the counter, DIY type teeth whitening options.

Others reasons for discoloration are ones you don’t have much control over – infection, aging, tooth trauma and using certain types of medicine. Discoloration for these reasons needs to be treated by visiting your dentist for a professional whitening treatment.

But whether you get treated by a dentist or do it at home, you probably want to know whether teeth whitening is safe or not.  And that, my friends, is the very question this article tries to answer.

The short answer is it all depends on the method you are using. Some of the methods have side effects while the most conventional ones are safe… if you can follow instructions.

So let’s take a look at the available options…

Professional Teeth Whitening

Dentists have a few tricks up their sleeves to help make your teeth as white as freshly fallen snow. Usually that involves using a chemical called carbamide peroxide to bleach your teeth. Through some process I’d need to take a course in organic chemistry to understand, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea.

When administered under the care and watchful eye of a dentist, this is considered to be a safe treatment method.

 Using Whitening Toothpaste

Carbamide peroxide isn’t found in whitening toothpastes.  Instead they use abrasive materials and a different chemical – blue covarine. Those that contain blue covarine are effective since they contain chemicals that will make the teeth whiten.

Whitening Strips

These are the common whitening strips which you can buy over- the –counter. They contain a limited amount of hydrogen peroxide and can be applied twice per day for a limited period of time. Different types of strips contain varying concentrations of the bleaching agent. So you may need to do some research and testing to see which one works best for you.

Activated Charcoal

Looking for a DIY kind of teeth whitening option? Then check out activated charcoal. Now you may not believe that the product works and that it can give you the desired results within a short period of time. However, there are those who swear by it and it has been used for centuries. Still, you should probably consult a dentist first before using it.

Most Common Teeth Whitening Side Effects

You can use any of the above-discussed products to whiten your teeth. However, there are side effects to teeth whitening treatments like these. The most common side effects are:

Teeth Sensitivity

A few people have reported sensitivity in their teeth after using some of the mentioned teeth whitening products. Luckily, the sensitivity is short lived and should go away soon. However, if it doesn’t go away in a week or two, you may consider treating it using sodium fluoride gel or potassium nitrate.

Irritated Gums

It is also possible that you may experience gingival irritation. This happens when the gum gets in contact with the teeth whitening products. Luckily, this side effect will go away after some time.

Maintaining Good Eating and Drinking Habits

Oral hygiene, eating and drinking habits can impact the results you get using these products. Because even after whitening your teeth, you can still stain them when drinking beverages like coffee and tea.

So maintaining good hygiene by doing things like rinsing your teeth after drinking coffee or tea can help you get better, whiter results. Also, you should always brush your teeth regularly to reduce the build-up of plaque.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Whitening your teeth is safe only if you follow the approved methods.

So talk to your dentist to help find a method that’s safe and will get you the results you’re looking for.

And make sure you use the whitening product as directed by a dentist or the manufacturer. Do not use the products more than it is recommended. If you do, it will wear away most of the microscopic amounts of enamel. This increases tooth sensitivity and may even accelerate tooth decay.