Can You Over Whiten Your Teeth?

Can You Over Whiten Your Teeth?

Published 29/09/2021

Last Reviewed 20/09/2023

White teeth have become a symbol of a beautiful, attractive smile. In fact, we see tooth whitening products, like toothpaste, strips, and natural mouthwashes, almost everywhere and, if we look further, we can easily find stronger, more effective treatments, like trays, for in-office and take-home use. However, many people fail to stop and ask if it is possible to over whiten your teeth. Most whitening procedures and products are safe for their intended use, but it’s always important to discuss the products you are interested in using with your dentist first to ensure you will not overuse them and damage your teeth in any way. There are products on the shelves today that may cause permanent damage to your teeth, if they are improperly overused.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Tooth Stains

There can be 2 different kinds of staining on your teeth when considering whitening. Intrinsic stains exist deeper into the teeth called dentin below the hard layer of the outside enamel. They can result from too much fluoride, mediations in childhood, aging, and previous trauma to teeth. They generally will not respond to whitening products and may require restorative dentistry as veneers.
Extrinsic tooth stains are more external affecting the outer layer of the teeth. Stain of this nature are from foods and smoking. This kind of stain responds to whitening applications and easier to treat than intrinsic staining.

Teeth Whitening Options You Should Know About

According to the American Dental Association, tooth whitening products fall into one of three categories: in-office bleaching procedures, dentist-supplied whitening products for home use, and mass market (over the counter) whitening products. Make sure you understand the use of each one completely, together with the benefits and risks before you choose to go with one. Protect your teeth by choosing the most safe and effective whitening options for your personal situation.

Whitening Strips

Although one of the more in expensive options, you need to be careful when using whitening strips. Since they are not custom fitted to your teeth, the whitening job can be uneven, leaving nooks and crannies with their natural color while the rest of the teeth turn whiter. This may make the darker areas even more noticeable.  Some whitening strips may present a risk of tooth sensitivity and consider to select a strip with a built-in sensitivity ingredient to alleviate this problem.  

Whitening Toothpastes

There are different varieties of whitening toothpastes available in the market. If you choose with care, you may be able to enjoy the perks of a white smile without the potential side effects. Are whitening toothpastes safe? Toothpastes with hydrogen peroxide will make your teeth whiter faster, however they may cause gum irritation or tissue damage in sensitive individuals.

On the other hand, antioxidant-rich whitening toothpastes, enriched with natural whitening ingredients, like citrus and apple extracts, are safe and effective and offer a natural route to maintain the effects of a professional or at-home peroxide-based whitening treatment. AO ProToothpaste – White Care uses natural extracts and micro-minerals to scrub away stains, leaving a long-lasting polished finish.

Home Remedies for Tooth Whitening

There are several options for home remedies for tooth whitening. Most of them are safe and effective. Some use natural ingredients, or products sourced from natural ingredients, and are free from harsh chemicals. Oil pulling and using baking soda are some of the popular home remedies. Maintaining good oral hygiene, including regular brushing including power dental toothbrushes and utilizing devices that go in between teeth , also help maintain a healthy smile. If you’re interested in learning more, read our complete article on home remedies for whitening your teeth.

Teeth Whitening Trays From Dentist

Whitening trays and whitening kits including custom whitening trays designed for home-whitening by your dentist can be a bit more expensive than mass market (over-the-counter) bleaching products, but give you the peace of mind of following the procedure under your dentist’s supervision. The dentist gives you specific instructions on how to use the whitening kit, how frequently to use it for what length of time for each use. Typically, these kits don’t provide instant results, and can take up to a few days before you notice anything different. 

Teeth Bleaching in Dentist Office

Some Call it Teeth Bleaching, but "whitening" is a term preferred by dentist seeing as several options do not require bleach.

In-office teeth whitening is carried out at the dentist’s office by an experienced professional. It typically requires a single visit, during which the dentist first applies a protective gel to your gums, followed by a bleaching agent to your teeth. Depending on your location, the average cost of teeth bleaching or tooth whitening at a dentist is around $650. Talk to your dentist to explore the most suitable whitening options for you.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

How long a teeth whitening lasts depends on several factors. What types of foods and drinks you consume and your oral hygiene practices will dramatically impact how long you teeth remain pearly white. Regular use of antioxidant-rich whitening toothpastes following an in-office or take-home bleaching can help the whitening results last.

Laser Teeth Whitening

Laser teeth whitening is a non-invasive technique and can produce noticeable positive results immediately. It is performed by a trained dental professional and can take several to complete. Laser teeth whitening is effective in removing stains from the hard-to-reach areas that other treatments fail to reach. The technique produces precise results, allowing the dentist to focus on specific teeth, if only a few teeth need to be whitened. On the downside, it’s more expensive than other whitening options. Depending on your location, the cost of laser teeth whitening can range from $400 to $1,500. In addition, you may need follow up sessions at the dentist, also performed by laser, to sustain the results.

Teeth Whitening Side Effects and Risks

Although the packaging of a product may say it’s safe for at-home use, when used according to usage instructions, if used improperly - for longer or more frequently than the recommended usage - there can be irreversible damage to your teeth. It’s important to know about the side effects of the teeth whitening products you are using. Some dentists caution against products to keep teeth white because they may cause the following:

  • Tooth Sensitivity: Some at-home products may make your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold drinks and food. If you undergo teeth whitening procedures in a dentist’s office, you will probably have less sensitivity. In addition, your dentist may be able to alleviate any sensitivity by recommending specific products, like a sensitive toothpaste with antioxidants. However, even with professional teeth whitening, there is always a risk of tooth sensitivity.
  • Gum Irritation: Contact of the gums with over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide-based whitening products can result in gum irritation. Sensitivity of gums may be a symptom that you have been using whitening products more frequently than your gums can handle
  • Root Damage: Teeth whitening may cause damage to the root of your teeth if you whiten your teeth and have receding gums and exposed dentin. Your dentist may be able to lessen this damage, but it is difficult to address once it is already present. Talk to your dentist if you suspect any problems.

Overall, teeth whitening is not harmful to your teeth unless you overdo it. Be sure to always use the guidance of your dentist or read the directions on the box extensively to be sure you are following the directions exactly.

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