Does Teeth Whitening Damage Your Teeth?

Does Teeth Whitening Damage Your Teeth?

Teeth whitening is a simple non-invasive procedure that can turn your stained, or discoloured teeth in to pearly white. In this procedure no enamel is lost and the colour you get may last many months.

When do you need teeth whitening?

Teeth get discoloured due to many reasons. There are external as well as internal reasons for teeth discoloration. Because of individual differences in teeth colour, some people have very white teeth and some people have yellowish hue like how people vary in their eye colour or hair colour.

The colour of the teeth comes from the internal dental tissues and pulp which decides an individual’s teeth colour. Also, as we get advanced in age, our teeth colour changes to darker hue. The external factors that are responsible for staining and discolouring teeth include foods like tea, coffee, chocolate, candies and some fruits like black current. Smoking tobacco also discolours the teeth as well as red wine.

The hard calcium deposits called tartar on your teeth also discolours your teeth. Sometimes, medicines taken for any illness including antibiotics also affects the colour of the teeth. Many times, injuries in the mouth may have created very tiny cracks, which absorbs food colours and stains the teeth.

How is teeth whitening done?

There are two major ways of carrying our teeth whitening procedure. One method involves professional teeth whitening done in the dentist’s office, and other is done at home with or without the dentist’s supervision.

When the procedure is done in the dentist’s office, they will do preliminary testing to determine whether you are a suitable candidate. Before the start of the procedure, a shield will be used to protect your gums and other soft tissue in the mouth. A special tray like a mouth guard containing the teeth whitening product will be fitted onto your teeth and allowed to be there for a few minutes for the chemical reaction to take place. After the tray is removed, the teeth will become lighter in shade.

The effect of the product will vary from one individual to another, and the type of product used based on individual need. It may last from a few months to a few years, depending on how well you take care of oral hygiene and your life style including what foods you consume and the habit of smoking.

Can teeth whitening damage teeth?

Teeth sensitivity is one of the common side effects of teeth whitening, for some people, which may result in sensitivity to cold or hot foods.

Many people experience discomfort in the gums. Sometimes white patches can be noticed on the gums after the procedure. Sore throat is one of complaints heard after teeth whitening in some people. These are temporary effects and usually disappear in a few days.

When teeth whitening is done at home with the readily available over the counter kits, there can be more risks involved compared with teeth whitening done in the dentist’s office professionally.

The treatment done at home depends on the quality of the product that is being used. Many people opt for home kits because they are cheaper but the results may not be as effective as it should be.

The home kits are not always ascertained for safety, and may turn out to be harmful. They are more acidic and therefore a risk for your teeth and the gums. Teeth whitening needs care and patience to carry out because it is a complicated procedure. If any step goes wrong then it becomes damaging for teeth and gums. The rules and concerning the safety of the product varies according to the rules of the state and the country. The chemical used for whitening agent is peroxide and the amount of peroxide in the home kit is one of the decisive factors for the success of the procedure.

Sometimes products that are available over the counter contains mild abrasive substances which harms the teeth and may harm more than helps.

When you use products which are not safe or when you do not use the products correctly, then there are chances of getting your teeth damaged.

The most common occurrence while not using safe product or not using it properly is sensitivity in the teeth.

Tooth sensitivity results from not protecting the gums while applying the product on the teeth. Also, when the product is more acidic than needed, the base of the tooth gets irritated and tooth becomes sensitive to cold or hot foods.

More acid in the product also makes the teeth etched and that increases the possibility of the tooth getting more stained after the effect of whitening wears off.

The teeth whitening process requires the gums to be shielded from the chemicals in the home kit. If gums are not protected with a rubber sheet, it may receive tiny amount of chemicals which irritate them.

In some cases, teeth become more discoloured than before the whitening process was done.

Sometimes because of the faulty product, the teeth become weak and have more chances of getting fractured. Sometimes tooth enamel gets corroded and may make the teeth more discoloured than before.

Teeth whitening as such is not harmful to teeth. It does not damage the teeth. The best way to get the teeth whitening procedure done at home is to consult your dentist. Take his advice in what product to choose from the variety that is available over the counter. Also take his advice in how to carry out the procedure in the best way possible. Teeth whitening products usually have very clear instruction. Follow those carefully. If there is a need to repeat the procedure one or more times, then do it at proper intervals as instructed.

A complete overview of teeth whitening procedures

overview of teeth whitening procedures

Teeth whitening is basically colouring your teeth to make it look whiter than they naturally are, without disturbing the surface.

Who benefits from teeth whitening procedures?

It is important to have good healthy teeth which have not undergone restorative treatments to benefit from teeth whitening procedures.

. Like everything else, there are wide differences in teeth colours of people. Each individual is different and have teeth in a variety of shades of while. Also, as we age, the colour of teeth also changes to darker shades.

. Teeth get discoloured because of substance abuse. Smoking and alcohol have an adverse effect on the colour of teeth. Excessive use of tea and coffee can also stain the teeth.

. Tartar also make your teeth darker. Certain medications are known to colour your teeth.

. You can get your teeth whitened professionally or DIY.

Professional way of teeth whitening

Professional bleaching is a very popular method of teeth whitening. The whole procedure of visiting the dentist’s office and getting the preparation done by team will take around 4 weeks.

First your dentist and his team will assess the suitability of the treatment for you. Once the decision is taken about you getting the teeth whitened at the dentist’s clinic, the team takes over. A mouth guard is prepared for you by taking the measurement and image of your teeth for which you will need 3 visits to the clinic so that the team can take impression.

After the treatment starts you will have to do the treatment at home, by applying the product over a few weeks. For half an hour at a time.

A rubber shield or a gel is used to shield your gums from getting any of the teeth whitening product on them. A tray prepared with specific measurements of the patient’s teeth is fitted in your mouth which will act as a mouth guard. The product used to whiten your teeth has hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as an active ingredient. This chemical compound breaks down releasing oxygen which gets onto the dental enamel making it lighter in colour.

In-Office bleaching

The clinic-based teeth whitening treatment is also available for a quick result. In this treatment the whitening product is applied directly to the teeth and is kept on with laser or other heat treatment to get immediate results. The effect of the procedure can be seen in 30 to 60 minute period and can last for many months.

What are the different teeth whitening systems available?

There is a wide choice of products available in the market for teeth whitening.

They include toothpastes, gels, rinses, trays and strips that can be obtained either from the dentist or over the counter in pharmacies.

Whitening rinses

They work as normal mouth washes, which can make the mouth smell fresh and help prevent gum disease and plaque. In addition, they also contain hydrogen peroxide to whiten the teeth. It may take a year to see the teeth whitened because the rinses are in the mouth for only a minute which is very little time to for it to be in contact with the teeth and have an effect.

 Whitening Toothpastes

Toothpastes in general does a mild abrasive job on the teeth to remove plaque and food remnants stuck on the teeth. The teeth whitening toothpastes also have chemical agents which contain stain removing qualities and can provide gentle polishing of the teeth. These toothpastes can remove dental stains on the surface but cannot bleach. The degree to which these toothpastes are effective in whitening is only one shade lighter colour than the original.


The whitening gels which can be bought over the counter contain peroxide. These gels are to be applied on the teeth directly on the teeth with a brush which is supplied with the gel. The peroxide content in each brand of gel varies and instructions are provided with the product needs to be followed carefully. The results can be seen in a few days itself and the whitening effect will last for about 4 months.

Whitening strips

These are very thin strips coated with the chemical containing peroxide gel. They need to be applied carefully according to instructions provided. You must take care to cover all the area of the teeth because these chemicals can work only in direct contact with the surface of the teeth.

Teeth whitener in a tray

As the name suggests a mouth guard tray that needs to be filled with a solution or a gel containing peroxide. This mouth guard like tray is worn for the prescribed time like a few hours every day. Some brands require for it to be worn every night. The duration can be 4 weeks or more. The time required to wear the tray depends on how white you want your teeth to be.

How long does teeth whitening results last?

Teeth whitening effects cannot last forever. These treatments can get affected by coloured drinks like red wine, and tea and coffee in excess.

The effect of whiteness also cannot be the same on all individuals. The factors like level of stains, the bleaching process used and the bleaching agent used also affect the whitening level and longevity of the whiteness. Although the cost of professionally done teeth whitening is more, the result is very long lasting and effective in professionally done whitening process, because the dentist will supervise to make sure of the right process and material before embarking on the teeth whitening procedure.

Who should not opt for teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening procedure is not recommended for children under the age of 16 because they are still growing and the nerve in the pulp chamber is still enlarged. Teeth whitening at this stage may irritate the pulp and make it sensitive.

Teeth whitening is not advisable for pregnant and lactating women because of the complications it can create for the baby.

People with receding gums, gum diseases, cavities and exposed roots should not go for teeth whitening as these can cause deeper dental issues.

The people who have any kind of allergies are also advised to avoid teeth whitening procedures.