Teeth whitening: is it safe?

Recently, the news warned people that teeth whitening may not be safe after a study at Stockton University in New Jersey indicated that some damage to teeth does occur as a result of exposure to these whitening chemicals. Kelly Keenan’s, surprising find was that the damage caused by hydrogen peroxide, is not to the enamel layer but the dentin layer, the layer under the enamel, of the tooth. Since the research was carried out on extracted teeth, the results may be different in vital teeth. Bottomline: The American Dental Association maintains that under proper supervision and instruction, hydrogen peroxide whitening treatments are safe to use.

Tips: Generally, tooth whitening is successful in at least 90 percent of patients. As a rule of thumb, yellow-colored teeth respond well to whitening, while brownish-colored teeth don’t respond as well. Avoid tobacco use and minimize drinking coffee, tea or red wine as well as foods like curry, which can cause staining.

Contraindications: Keep in mind that tooth whitening only affects natural teeth; tooth-colored fillings, veneers and crowns will not be whitened and and they may not match your newly whitened smile. Also, intrinsic stains caused by taking tetracycline or fluorosis (ingestion of too much fluoride) most likely will not be dramatically changed by tooth whitening.

Risks: Risks associated with tooth whitening include tooth sensitivity, irritated gum tissue, and damage to the roots of teeth. That is why it is best done under the supervision of a dentist.

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