Does teeth whitening damage enamel?
January 16, 2024
Many of us dream of having a brighter smile.
In fact, discoloured or stained teeth are listed as one of the top five most common issues that cause smile insecurities.
Luckily, though, there are ways you can improve the colour of your teeth.
Teeth whitening is just one of the most popular, and thousands of people every year improve their smile with these types of treatments.
But does teeth whitening damage the enamel?
Here, our experts discuss teeth whitening in more detail, and whether or not there are any risks associated with the treatment.
Is teeth whitening harmful?
Regardless of whether you use over-the-counter teeth whitening products or opt for professional, in-practice treatment, there’s always a chance your teeth and gums will be sensitive to the chemicals.
In-practice treatments, however, are much more precise, and as they’re carried out by an experienced dentist, there’s much less chance of them causing any harm to your teeth and gums.
This isn’t to say that over-the-counter teeth whitening products are unsafe, as all teeth whitening products contain a safe amount of the bleaching agent. But without professional assistance, there’s more chance you could cause harm to your teeth and gums.
Does teeth whitening damage gums?
Everyone will experience some level of gum irritation from teeth whitening, but it shouldn’t cause any permanent damage.
This irritation is caused by the hydrogen peroxide (the bleaching agent used in most teeth whitening treatments) coming into contact with the gums, causing chemical burns.
Although it sounds serious and can be uncomfortable, it’s nothing to worry about, any pain or sensitivity you may experience should subside on its own within a couple of days – but using a saltwater rinse should help ease these sensations a little in the meantime.
Can whitening strips damage teeth?
Whitening strips can be an excellent alternative to in-practice teeth whitening treatments. But if you wear them too long and too often, they can start to cause damage to your teeth and increase your risk of tooth sensitivity.
Some whitening strips may also contain chlorine dioxide – the same acid used to disinfect swimming pools – which has the capability destroy your tooth’s enamel.
If you’re concerned about at-home, over-the-counter teeth whitening strips, always be sure to check the ingredients, and only wear them once a day for a maximum of 30 minutes, until you achieve your desired shade.
How to whiten teeth without damaging enamel
So long as the product you use contains high-quality chemicals and you use it as instructed, you should suffer no permanent damage to your teeth, gums, and enamel.
However, if you’re worried, there are some things you can do to improve the shade of your teeth naturally, including:
- Switching up your diet
Unless they’re a case of poor genetics, a medical condition, or simply ageing, yellow (or otherwise discoloured) teeth don’t happen by themselves.
The foods and drinks we consume have a huge impact on the shade of our teeth, and rich foods and drinks, such as red wine, tea, coffee, curries, and tomato sauce-based dishes all have the potential to stain our teeth.
You can still enjoy these foods, but only in moderation if you want to avoid staining.
As well as this, incorporating ‘whitening foods’ (yes, they exist!) into your diet will work wonders.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables, like apples, celery, and carrots all increase saliva production, which flushes away the bacteria on your teeth and around the gumline and scrubs gently away at surface stains.
- Stopping smoking
Tobacco use, as you may know, can cause some serious staining. And quickly, too.
Nicotine and oxygen are what cause your teeth to appear yellow, and the tar causes a brown tinge.
Giving it up is no easy feat, but by doing so – alongside improving your oral hygiene routine – you’ll see a huge improvement in the colour of your teeth.
- Altering your oral hygiene routine
Brushing twice and flossing at least once every day will massively improve the shade of your teeth.
By doing this, and keeping on top of it, reduce the number of bacteria on the surface and in between your teeth and prevent plaque buildup – the number one cause of stained and discoloured teeth.
You should also keep up with going to the dentist regularly for a professional clean to help your teeth stay sparkly white.
Need more information about teeth whitening?
If you’ve never had your teeth whitened before, the process and the risks can all sound quite daunting.
Our expert cosmetic dentists here at The London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry can assure you that, when done properly, teeth whitening causes no permanent damage to your enamel, teeth, or gums. But if you’re still concerned, or have any questions you need answering, we’re here and more than happy to help.