Teeth Whitening Risks and Side Effects

Teeth whitening, especially when supervised by a dentist, is a safe and effective procedure with very few long-term risks. In most cases, side effects and other issues are caused by improper use of the whitening product or excessive whitening. Of the possible teeth whitening side effects, the most common is temporary dental sensitivity. You can minimize your risk by consulting with a dentist before beginning treatment and following instructions carefully. 
tooth sensitivity
Some patients experience sensitivity after teeth whitening.

Potential Long-Term Risks

There are very few risks associated with teeth whitening. However, in rare cases, both professional-grade and over-the-counter products can cause:

  • Permanent gum or tooth sensitivity
  • Damage to your dental roots
  • Enamel erosion
  • Uneven results
  • Damage to the mucous membranes in your mouth

Patients who continually whiten their teeth without the approval of their dentists can also develop serious oral health concerns. Constant use of peroxide-based whitening products can strip away tooth enamel and cause chemical burns on the soft tissue. However, these risks are rare and are typically associated with over-whitening or improper technique.

Undergoing professional whitening treatment with an experienced cosmetic dentist is the best way to minimize the chance of temporary or long-term side effects.

Temporary Side Effects

Although teeth whitening rarely causes long term damage, temporary sensitivity is not uncommon. If you experience any discomfort following your treatment, your dentist can help you minimize irritation in the future.

Dental Sensitivity

For most patients, sensitivity dissipates within a few days of treatment. While there is no way to predict who may develop the condition, some patients face a higher risk for post-whitening sensitivity. You are more likely to experience this side effect if you:

  • Already have sensitive teeth
  • Notice changes in the sensitivity of your teeth following a hygienic cleaning
  • Experience sensitivity following brushing, flossing, or fluoride treatments

Your dentist can recommend techniques to minimize sensitivity for future treatments. Gentle cleansing products and toothpastes can manage and decrease discomfort. Some dentists also offer desensitizing products for whitening patients. If you experience irritation, you should abstain from touch-up treatments until otherwise instructed by your dentist.

Gum Irritation

Another common side effect associated with teeth whitening is gum irritation. This condition may result from:

  • Using an ill-fitting bleaching tray
  • Failure of the protective barrier during in-office treatment
  • Overuse of a whitening agent

When designed correctly, at-home whitening trays prevent the bleaching gel from coming into contact with your gum tissue. Your dentist can create a custom-made tray to reduce the chance of irritation.

Minimizing Your Risks

Undergoing whitening treatment with an experienced cosmetic dentist is the best way to minimize the chance of temporary or long-term or side effects. Over-the-counter whitening products are less predictable. Some inexpensive products have dangerously high levels of peroxide. In addition, they are more likely to cause uneven results. Most side effects of teeth whitening stem from improper use of whitening gel, meaning you can protect your oral health by following all of your dentist’s instructions precisely. Consult your dentist before beginning whitening treatment to determine if you are a good candidate for teeth bleaching.

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