Q: Are Tooth Whitening/Bleaching Products Safe?
A: Whitening is ideal for people who have healthy teeth and gums but have yellow tones in their teeth. Darker brownish to bluish grayish colored teeth are more difficult to whiten. Today there are many products available--both in dental office and over the counter. Whitening is not recommended for children under age 16; or, for people with sensitive teeth, gum disease, several fillings, cavities or receded gums.
For more than ten years the ADA has monitored whitening products. The data shows that in-office 10% peroxide whitening products are safe and effective. Similar results appear to be forthcoming for stronger procedures. No data is available for over the counter products. The most common side effects of whitening are tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gum tissue. Most systems have treatment recommendations for these temporary problems and they are easily overcome.
Whitening is effective and usually the results last from 4-6 months, depending on a person’s diet and smoking habits. If necessary, color tune ups can be readily accomplished with 1 or 2 applications to restore your desired shade. A good approach to whitening is to start with an evaluation by your dentist to consider your goals and options.