Frequently Asked Questions
Can teeth whitening damage teeth?
Professional teeth whitening that is overseen and administered by a qualified dentist will never damage your teeth. Your dentist will ensure that you get the proper whitening products and that you do not over whiten your teeth.
However, it is possible to damage the teeth by over whitening them. The peroxide-based whiteners used in the teeth whitening process can weaken the teeth and damage the enamel if they are not used properly, or are used too frequently.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to avoid over-the-counter (OTC) teeth whitening kits from sources like Amazon and other websites, which could contain dangerously-high levels of peroxide.
If you do not want to pay for professional teeth whitening services from your dentist, make sure you only use ADA-approved whitening products. ADA-approved products have relatively low concentrations of peroxide, so the risk of enamel damage from over-whitening is much lower.
Which teeth whitening products actually work?
There are two categories of teeth whitening products that actually work.
The first are abrasive whiteners, such as toothpaste that contains baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and other very mild abrasives. These abrasives work similarly to sandpaper, rubbing plaque and surface stains away from your teeth. These abrasive whiteners work on minor stains, but the abrasive is not strong enough to damage enamel.
It is recommended that you avoid charcoal toothpaste, which has abrasives that may be hard enough to damage your enamel with frequent use. Stick to an ADA-approved whitening toothpaste product.
The second category of teeth whitening products that actually work are chemical whiteners that contain peroxide. These are available both from dentists and over-the-counter, but it’s best to work with a dentist to get your desired results, and ensure that your teeth are not damaged by over whitening.
To explore your options in further detail and make sure you choose a safe, effective teeth whitening product, get in touch with your dentist for a consult.
Why does teeth whitening cause sensitivity?
The precise reason that whitening causes sensitivity is not fully known, but the leading theory is that it’s due to “dentinal microtubules.” These extremely small, microscopic channels in our teeth connect the exterior of the tooth enamel to the interior nerve, allowing us to feel sensations in our teeth.
The theory is that, since peroxide-based whiteners weaken the enamel very slightly, this exposes the microtubules, which become much more sensitive. Then, as the enamel remineralizes and becomes stronger after the whitening process is over, they are sealed up again, and no longer feel overly sensitive. This would explain why the sensitivity caused by teeth whitening typically only lasts for a few days.