Dental Teeth Whitening: Facts, Types, & Safety Tips


If you’re looking to brighten up your smile and get rid of some of the staining or yellowing that has built up on your teeth, then whitening is definitely the way to go. Making sound choices to whiten your teeth can be tricky, however, given how many different pastes, gels, strips, trays, and even professional whitening services are available on the market. Additionally, the whitening process is not always for everyone, particularly those who might have highly sensitive teeth, gums, or a large number of fillings. If you’re interested in teeth whitening, check out these facts, options, and tips to make sure you’re whitening experience is as successful and painless as possible.

Safety Tips before Getting Started

Before purchasing any products or scheduling any appointments, there are a few general considerations that all individuals interested in teeth whitening should take into account. 

  1. Make sure you follow all instructions. While you might think that leaving on products for a bit longer than the recommended time will enhance results and give you a whiter and brighter smile, the reality is that those guidelines are there for a reason. Disobeying the instructions on your products can lead to gum irritation, teeth sensitivity, and an overwhelmingly unpleasant experience. Make sure to also follow instructions related to how long after the process you can eat, and how long you should avoid food and beverages with darker colors such as red wine or coffee that might stain your teeth before your mouth has fully recovered from the whitening process.
  2. Beware of sensitivity. If you’re teeth and gums are in good shape, then feeling a little sensitivity after the process, such as if you were to drink an extremely cold beverage, shouldn’t be an issue. If you are in the middle of whitening your teeth however and they are starting to feel quite sensitive to the point of discomfort, then it’s best to stop the procedure and notify your dentist. The same goes for if you find your gums are irritated and sensitive during the whitening process as well.
  3. Shoot for sustainability. Once you’ve whitened your teeth and achieved the desired impact, make sure to not overdo your whitening sessions. You’re using a mild form of bleach when you whiten your teeth, so it’s important to only do the process once or twice a year once you’ve reached the shade you want. Overdoing your whitening can lead to long-lasting sensitivity and erosion of the tooth enamel, so make sure you’re leaving enough time in between your whitening sessions so you don’t overdo it.
  4. Make sure to always consult with your dentist. They are the professional after all, and will likely have a solid grasp on what some of the best tooth whitening products are out there, and also what sort of product might fit your specific needs. They might also give you good tips on products to avoid or ones that might be a waste of money. 


When Whitening Should Be Avoided

There are a few situations in which teeth whitening should be avoided, either due to health concerns or just because it won’t be successful and will end up wasting your time. Those include the following:

Allergies to peroxide are one major reason to avoid teeth whitening as many products contain peroxide as the whitening agent. It’s very important to speak with your dentist if this is an allergy you have to determine which products you might be able to use. 

If you have overly sensitive teeth or gums, then you should likely avoid strong teeth whitening products. The products themselves can often cause slight sensitives even for those who don’t have sensitive teeth or gums, so applying a whitening agent to already sensitive teeth can lead to pain or discomfort. 

Age is also absolutely a factor when it comes to teeth whitening. Children under the age of 16 should not use teeth whitening products because the nerves of your teeth are normally enlarged until this age, meaning that whitening agents can irritate the nerves making them overly sensitive.

Pre-Existing Tooth or gum issues can also lead to some major issues if you’re using dental teeth whitening. The reason for this is because the bleach in whitening solutions can impact any pre-existing areas of decay and cause already sensitive areas to become even more inflamed. If you already have cavities, gingivitis, gum disease, or worn enamel, then applying whitening agents on top of this can drastically impact discomfort and enhance pre-existing irritations. Additionally, if you already have a large number of restorations in your teeth, you should definitely speak with your dentist as a solution like veneers might be a better option. 

Darkly stained teeth also might not be the best candidate for some DIY products, particularly if stains are brownish in hue, gray, or purple-tinted. Whitening agents work best on yellow-hued teeth, so if your teeth are stained or tinted with a color other than yellow, more professional whitening procedures might be a better option for you. 


DIY Teeth Whitening Options

If you want to try to brighten up your smile with some teeth whitening options at home, there are tons of different products you can choose from – but we highly recommend consulting and coming to our office for the best and safest results. 

  • Whitening toothpaste is a great first step when trying to lighten the hue of your teeth. Whitening toothpaste consists of abrasive materials which work to scrub the surface of your tooth to lighten staining and hue. One important thing to note is that those kinds of toothpaste are designed to target surface stains only and do not contain any bleaching agents. 
  • In terms of over-the-counter whitening agents, one of the more popular products is whitening strips. These strips are thin layers of plastic coated with a peroxide whitening solution that sticks on to the teeth for a prescribed amount of time. Strips can be used on both top and bottom teeth, and are provided with specific instructions that should be followed carefully.
  • Another quick and easy at-home teeth whitening solution is a whitening wash. Similar to regular mouthwash, whitening wash both helps improve breath and dissolves some of the built-up dental plaque or staining in those hard-to-reach places. Because whitening rinses only stay in contact with your teeth for a short period of time, the impact will likely be more subtle than if you were to apply a gel solution or get your teeth professionally white. 
  • Gel solutions can also be purchased for use along with teeth trays for another over-the-counter whitening process. Through this method, a gel that encompasses a peroxide bleaching agent is applied to the top and bottom trays which are then rested on the teeth for the amount of time as prescribed by the instructions. 


Professional Teeth Whitening

If you’re looking for a teeth whitening method that’s tailored specifically to your teeth and your specific needs then professional teeth whitening is the way to go. Your dentist will work with you to customize the strength of the teeth whitening agent being used, allowing you to take into account both sensitivity as well as pinpoint any specific problem areas. Professional teeth whitening is also much more of a long-term fix and will help ensure that you’re not consistently having to purchase over-the-counter remedies to get the effect you’re looking for. 


Possible Side Effects

While teeth whitening is a common process, it’s important to note that there are some common side effects that might occur, particularly if not done through using professional methods with a trained dentist. The most common side effects are increased teeth and gum sensitivity as well as mild irritation of mouth tissue. The increased sensitivity is usually a response to the whitening chemicals used, and the irritated mouth tissue is generally a result of the trays or mouthpieces used to apply the whitening gels.

If you find that you’re having these side effects, a few tips to minimize the impact include pausing your whitening regime and allowing your teeth to recover from the increased sensitivity levels, getting fitted for more comfortable mouth trays, or wearing them for a shorter period, and asking your dentist to recommend a high fluoride mouthwash or toothpaste which can help re-mineralize your teeth. Toothpaste with potassium nitrate can also help to ease nerve endings if you’re experiencing increased tooth sensitivity, so make sure you always check the labels before purchasing!


Get Dental Teeth Whitening from Our Team Today

If you’re interested in getting dental teeth whitening from a professional, give us a call at Englewood Dentistry. Our expert staff will tailor a specific whitening process to suit your teeth as well as your desired outcome in a way that no over-the-counter remedy would be able to do. We also offer a wide range of services, from regular check-ups to dental crowns or veneers to other cosmetic dentistry services. Get in touch today and let us help you with all of your regular dentistry needs!