One of the most common questions we get asked is around the safety of teeth whitening?
There is a very simple answer, Yes, if carried out properly and after an assessment of your teeth and gums.
What is Teeth Whitening?
Exactly as described – teeth whitening is a professional treatment designed to improve the colour of your teeth.
How does teeth whitening work?
Teeth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). Effectively, these products dissolve stains into smaller pieces. As a result, the discolouration is less concentrated and your teeth look brighter.
What are the side effects of teeth whitening?
Tooth sensitivity is the main side effect. This happens when there is not enough protective enamel on your teeth. The exposed dentine (the second tooth layer) doesn’t like whitening and this leads to increased sensitivity. Over-whitening could also be a problem, however, we are yet to hear a patient complain about this.
What are the risks?
When asked “is teeth whitening safe?” firstly, we discus the risks. If teeth whitening is not provided by a regulated and registered professional, there are some significant risks. The product may not be correct, or the technique used may not be correct. We have, sadly, seen burns and skin reactions. Inappropriate provision of treatment leads to these side effects.
When does teeth whitening not work?
Teeth whitening will, on occasion, not work. Yellow teeth usually whiten well, but, brown and grey teeth maybe resistant to chance. Ceramic restorations such as crowns, veneers will not whiten. Areas where you have enamel missing will not whiten as its the enamel that absorbs the bleach. Some teeth may not whiten as well as others. Commonly the canines tend to be a touch more resistant to whitening than other teeth.
If you have lots of recession of your teeth, you may find that you cannot tolerate the whitening process as it will be sensitive.
Who can provide teeth whitening?
When asked “is teeth whitening safe?” – The first discussion should revolve around the providers of treatment. In 2013, the High Court confirmed the General Dental Council’s position. The General Dental Council state that “tooth whitening is the practice of dentistry”. Only registered dental professionals can legally and safely carry out teeth whitening. This is the case regardless of the products used.
Unregistered professionals cannot legally provide teeth whitening.
The concentrations of teeth whitening products.
The Uk allow the use of hydrogen peroxide and other compounds or mixtures that release hydrogen peroxide. This includes carbamide peroxide and zinc peroxide formulas.
Dentists use a maximum strength of 6% hydrogen peroxide. This also applies to products that turn into hydrogen peroxide.
In broad terms, 10% carbamide peroxide content would yield a maximum of 3.6% hydrogen peroxide. Thus, the commonly used products containing 16% carbamide peroxide are permitted because they would normally be releasing less than 6% hydrogen peroxide.