Teeth whitening is by far the most popular cosmetic dental procedure – Its cheap, quick and easy… But how safe is it?
I once read about someone who had all the enamel stripped from their teeth after having teeth whitening. In this case, the person selling the whitening was not a professional, and did not know what they were putting on the teeth. In fact, it was a chlorine gel, which is very acidic, and this quickly stripped away all the enamel on the teeth! The teeth were white for short period time, but the enamel will never come back, and to restore the appearance of this persons smile, they will need complex crown work.
Although situations like this are rare, I would suggest that the biggest risk is you wasting your money on something that doesn’t work!
In the UK, legally, only dental professionals are allowed to offer teeth whitening, and even they are only allowed to provide certain treatments. This doesn’t stop beauty salons and other people offering teeth whitening in busy shopping centres, just like a speed limit does not stop speeding motorists.
Most places will have you open your mouth, for 30-40 minutes, with a gel and a light, and show you your teeth after, with a shade guide, saying your teeth are whiter. Some people will have whiter teeth, and this is because if you have your mouth open for that time, your teeth will dehydrate, and this makes them look whiter! The problem is that they soon return to their original colour. Meaning that you have just wasted £100+ on something that doesn’t work!
The other option is to see a dentist, who can prescribe a better treatment, and a plan to actually improve the colour of your teeth, and keep them white!
Risks With Teeth Whitening
I normally advise my patients to expect sensitivity for the duration of the treatment, and a few days afterward. The level of sensitivity will vary from person to person and if you have tooth wear or areas where the gum has receded, then you will get more sensitivity.
I personally whiten my teeth, and I would not do it if there were permanent down sides to it.
How to get the best results
I have tried many systems, some with a light, and some without, and my favorite now is the home system, where you have two concentrations of gel, a low percentage to start with, and slightly higher to progress into. This keeps sensitivity low, and results are consistently good.
Most dentists will have their own favorite system, and if they are experienced in cosmetic treatment, then they will probably advise the best treatment for you.