Here Are 7 Possible Dangers Of Teeth Whitening (And How To Avoid Them)
Before getting into the specifics, it’s important to note that most negative symptoms you might have from tooth whitening are quite mild; they aren’t serious and will often go away on their own as long as you stop whitening for a bit until the symptoms clear up.
That being said, it’s good to know exactly what the dangers are so you can pinpoint whether they came from your whitening, or something else.
You might find that your teeth can become sensitive during, or after a bleaching (if it’s sensitive before, it doesn’t have anything to do with the bleaching).
There are a few boring and technical reasons that might cause you to experience tooth sensitivity (you’ll start yawning once I get past the words “Dentin Tubules” and you’ll definitely be snoring after “enamel loss from abfraction”). Rather than going into the exact details, let’s skip to the solution (you can learn about the dry, technical details here if you’re so inclined to do so).
Prevention: Try an at-home dental kit with a lower concentration of peroxide gel. The solution here is more treatments, lower concentrations.
If the peroxide gel from the tooth-whitening solution gets on your gums for too long, you might find that they become irritated. This is a very short-term problem: just wipe off the peroxide, and you’ll be back to normal in no time at all.
This type of problem is more likely to occur using a tray-based take-home whitening kit; it’s common for patients to put too much peroxide in the tray, which can squeeze out the top and get on your gums.
This one is similar to gum irritation, and it occurs if you accidentally swallow some of the peroxide gel.
Once again, this is much more common with the take-home trays, and even more common if you’re using them overnight where the peroxide drips down your throat and stays there while you sleep; the longer the peroxide touches your skin the more you’ll be irritated.
Prevention: you can fix both these problems most of the time by just being more careful with how much peroxide you apply, although I realize some people get irritated gums and throat even with lower concentrations of peroxide, so you’ll want some special advice from a dentist if that’s you.
Do your best to try and keep the peroxide off of your gums or throat. If you do happen to swallow a fair amount of peroxide, you might end up with:
You really shouldn’t swallow the peroxide used in tooth whitening. It’s not edible, and it’s bad for your digestive tract.
If you do happen to swallow a notable amount of peroxide gel, it might cause some irritation in your digestive system. As long as it’s not a ridiculously large amount, it should clear up on its own; I’d recommend you stop whitening until any digestive symptoms clear up though (as I’d recommend for any whitening symptoms).
Prevention: don’t swallow the peroxide. If you wear a tooth whitening tray at night (which can drip into the back of your throat to be swallowed), try wearing the tray during the day instead, during your daily activities.
Extra Tooth Damage
If you’re teeth already have cracks or cavities in them, one possible scenario is that the peroxide from a take-home dental tray might seep into the crack, and stay there. I probably don’t have to remind you that peroxide shouldn’t be left on your tooth for more than a few hours.
With that given, we definitely don’t want to leave it on for weeks on end! And that’s what happens if you get some peroxide stuck inside your teeth!
Prevention: Get any cracks or cavities in your teeth fixed! It’s good to fix those types of issues anyways, as they can escalate into more painful and expensive problems, such as root canals and crowns.
Uneven Whitening - From Previous Dental Work
If you have any fillings, crowns, bridges, veneers, etc. then you will likely have some problems with getting all parts of your tooth to whiten evenly. The reason is that these types of non-tooth materials don’t respond to bleach properly, or at least not the same as your teeth do.
You’ll want a dentist to help you navigate the work that’s already been done on your teeth, so you can get your teeth whitened evenly.
Teens - No Whitening For You!
It doesn’t matter if all the hottest movie stars are doing it, if you’re a teen you shouldn’t be getting your teeth whitened in-office.
And it’s not because of a maturity issue, but it has to do with the structure of young teeth.
When you’re a teenager, your teeth are still developing into their adult form. In a fully formed tooth, there is quite a bit of distance between the nerve of your tooth, and the outer-surface of your tooth. When you’re still a teen though, the distance between your nerve and the outside-of-tooth is very short (the pulp chamber where the nerve resides in your tooth is much larger when you are young), meaning that your nerve is closer to the peroxide.
Because your nerve is so close to the surface of your tooth, whitening becomes a problem as your risk for tooth sensitivity is very high.
If you absolutely need to get your teeth whitened as a teen, try a take-home dental whitening kit. They use a much lower concentration of peroxide, so they’re less likely to irritate the root of your tooth.
Prevention: consult a dentist if you absolutely need to get your teeth whitened as a teen.