How Safe Is Teeth Whitening?

A Burton patient asks about the safety aspect of this popular cosmetic dentistry procedure.

From time to time, we receive general queries from patients about an aspect of dental care that we feel is worth sharing with others. This is an enquiry that we recently received at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice.

Hi … I’m thinking of having my teeth whitened as they are looking a bit dull these days. A friend of mine had this done a few years ago though and said her teeth felt extremely sensitive for some time afterwards, and, as it’s not an essential dental treatment that I urgently need, I’m now undecided. Are there are any risks to this treatment?

Thanks for the question. We obviously can’t comment on individual cases such as that of your friend but we can offer some general information though which will probably help you to decide whether to have the whitening procedure or not.

Government legislation relatively recently banned anyone but registered dental clinicians from performing this procedure. Prior to this, it was often available in beauty salons and high street boutiques. Whilst most of these erred on the side of caution when performing this treatment, unfortunately too many did not. To achieve the best (i.e. whitest) results, some used very high concentrations of the bleaching agent. This may have resulted in white teeth but extreme sensitivity often followed. It maybe possible that this is what happened to your friend.

However, some patients do find that their teeth are a little more sensitive after this procedure, even when performed by a local registered dentist. This should be temporary though and usually goes away within a few days. But it is worthwhile understanding the small risk before proceeding.

Other than that, there are no real risks if done correctly. Patients of our Burton dental practice will have an initial consultation where we will examine your teeth prior to the treatment. Any problems will usually need to be treated before the whitening procedure is carried out.

We will take impressions of your teeth, from which trays that fit over your teeth are made. Ensuring that the trays are made to fit each patient individually ensures not only comfort, but also prevents any bleaching agent from leaking onto the gums and lips. This could cause burning and is one of the reasons why we don’t recommend using ‘off the shelf’, one-size-fits-all whitening kits.

Other than possibly a little additional sensitivity for a few days, there are no other risks attached to a teeth whitening procedure. In fact, as the effect of the whitening fades, you can simply top up the whiteness using gel supplied by our dentists. Please do not even consider buying any whitening gels over the internet. This could prove to be dangerous and certainly not worth any small savings that you might make. Simply put, the origin and formulation of generic whitening products is unknown and they could cause damage to your teeth and gums.

We hope that this reply has answered your concerns and invite you to make an initial consultation at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice. We are always happy to talk through procedures with potential patients.

You can book your appointment with us by calling our Burton practice today on 01283 845345. We look forward to seeing you.