Is It Safe to Whiten Your Teeth?

General & Cosmetic Dentist Serving Lake Oswego, West Linn & Nearby Portland, Oregon

Posted: August 29, 2019

Woman whitening her teeth in Portland As someone dealing with stains or discoloration, you may be interested in teeth whitening to brighten your smile. Naturally, you want to know if it’s possible to achieve a lighter shade without damaging your enamel or irritating your gums.

The good news is that a professional whitening treatment, performed in-office or with customized at-home whitening trays, is a safe, comfortable, and effective way to achieve the results you want. However, when it comes to other methods, such as DIY options and over-the-counter products, the answer is not as straightforward. Keep reading to learn about the safety of several different teeth whitening approaches.

DIY Whitening

Do-it-yourself teeth whitening has become popular in the past few years, with new trends emerging all the time. Unfortunately, many of these methods are relatively ineffective and time-consuming.

Take oil pulling as an example. It is a common DIY approach which involves swishing roughly a tablespoon of oil around the mouth for upwards of 20 minutes. There is no real evidence to support the whitening claims made by people who use this technique. Worse than being ineffective, some DIY approaches are actually bad for your teeth.

Lemon juice, sometimes mixed with baking soda, is an example of a potentially damaging homemade whitener. Lemon is highly acidic and capable of eroding tooth enamel. For that reason, patients are told to limit citrus beverages.

It stands to reason that rubbing acidic lemon juice onto the surface of your teeth, especially paired with abrasive baking soda, is not an ideal way to remove stains and discoloration. Similarly, charcoal is another harsh treatment that has not been proven safe or effective.

With these and other DIY methods, you may end up doing more harm than good. Please consult our dentists before trying any homemade whitening treatment to find out if it is safe to use.

Over-the-Counter Tooth Whitening

Over-the-counter tooth whitening products are appealing because of their availability and low price. Options like pens, strips, and gels can often be purchased for a few dollars from your local drugstore. While some of these products are relatively safe and can lighten your teeth a shade or two, many come with drawbacks.

First and foremost, store-bought products can contain relatively high levels of peroxide. These products can cause irritation and lead to tooth sensitivity, especially when misused. Common mistakes that people tend to make with over-the-counter whitening products include leaving the product on for too long or using the product too frequently.  

It’s also possible to experience the following issues with store-bought treatments:

  • Uneven color
  • White spots on gums
  • Poor-fitting application trays
  • Minimal whitening effect compared to professional treatment

When Not to Whiten

You should not whiten your teeth if you have any untreated dental issues, as the process may lead to irritation or other complications. It is important to treat problems such as gum disease, gum recession, and plaque and tartar buildup before moving forward with whitening.  

Additionally, pregnant women or new mothers may need to postpone teeth whitening. During this time, increased hormone levels commonly lead to gingivitis.

To find out if whitening is safe for your current situation, please schedule a consultation with experienced dentist Dr. Keith Ogawa. He will examine your teeth and evaluate your candidacy for whitening treatments.

Schedule Your Professional Teeth Whitening Service in Portland

When it comes to whitening, you should trust your smile to dental professionals. Dr. Ogawa and his team go to great lengths to protect your oral health and achieve optimal results. One way that they do this is by offering high-quality, powerful, and professional-grade whitening gel.

Schedule your consultation or whitening appointment today by calling 503-636-4069. Contemporary Dental Health serves Lake Oswego, West Linn, and nearby Portland, Oregon.

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