Want to whiten your teeth, but not sure if it’s for you?
In this blog – ”Is teeth whitening safe?”, we cover:
- What is in whitening products
- How does whitening work
- Why dental consultation is best
Simply put, yes, teeth whitening is safe. All whitening products available in Australia must adhere to strict laws and regulations. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) is in place to regulate the whitening industry, in relation to both dentists and over the counter products.
What is in whitening products?
The active ingredient in whitening products is either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. When used as directed it is perfectly safe in its application. Over the counter products contain very small concentrations of the peroxide, which is why they are so easily available without dental consultation.
Only a dentist can use teeth whitening products which contain over 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide. Dentists have the education and training to assess a patients’ oral health and determine if it’s safe for them to undergo whitening and will address any oral health concerns before starting treatment.
It is important to note that these peroxide based formulations are the best option for whitening. Some products market themselves as ‘all-natural’ alternatives, which often contain materials such as sodium chlorite or sodium perborate, while natural, they actually softens and dissolves the tooth’s enamel over time. The ADA has reported such products to the ACCC to ensure better protection of consumers from misleading marketing.
How does whitening work?
The peroxide solution penetrates the surface of the tooth and reacts with the coloured molecules that cause staining and yellow discolouration. They break down these molecules, reducing their concentration which creates visibly whiter teeth.
Over the counter products have small amounts of peroxide, therefore they only have the ability to penetrate to very shallow depths. Whereas the higher concentrated solutions dentists are qualified to use have the ability to soak deeper into the tooth’s enamel so the whitening effect lasts for much longer.
Are there any side effects?
When used as directed there are no long term side effects from teeth whitening. Higher concentrations of peroxide can cause short term side effects, which is why such products can only be administered by a professional in order to minimize any potential discomfort. While mild, these side effects include:
- Gum irritation: the peroxide used can cause irritation to the soft tissue of the gums. Any discomfort should only be short lived.
- Tooth sensitivity: when the peroxide penetrates the tooth it can irritate the nerve and cause sensitivity. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth and tooth mousse can help, and are often recommended to use in the lead up to treatment, as well as after to alleviate discomfort.
Whitening at the dentist is safe
Seeing your dentist for treatment is the safest way to achieve whiter teeth. They can ensure that the whitening product is applied correctly and for the right duration. These factors are important, not only for the result, but for your safety as improper use can cause extreme sensitivity or worst case death of your tooth.
To find out more about the whitening process check out our blog about the different teeth whitening options.
Interested in getting your teeth whitened? Book an appointment to talk to our experienced dentists about your options today.