Can Teeth Whitening Damage Your Teeth? Exploring the Risks and Precautions

Tooth discoloration is a common problem in people as they grow older. There can be several causes of tooth discoloration like food stains, health conditions, medications, etc. Whatever be the cause of stained teeth, it affects a person’s overall appearance.

So if you feel your appearance needs an uplift, you can make a teeth whitening Sydney appointment.

Different Types Of Whitening Treatments

There are a plethora of over-the-counter products that you can use to improve the appearance of your teeth. However, you may need to visit a dentist if you have deeper stains. Some of the common ways to improve the appearance of teeth are

  • Use of over-the-counter products like toothpaste, mouthwashes and whitening gels.
  • Using natural agents like charcoal and coconut oil.
  • Unconventional and newer techniques make use of LED kit-based treatments. LED kit-based treatments usually use a peroxide-based serum and a mouthpiece containing LEDs.
  • Procedures make use of harsher agents like a high concentration of carbamide peroxide.These treatments can only be performed under the supervision of a dentist.

The Ways In Which Whitening Treatments Can Affect You


They Can Make Your Teeth Sensitive

The teeth have a protective outer covering known as the enamel. The enamel may wear off slightly during the whitening process. Hence the tooth becomes more sensitive to hot/cold or sugar-rich food. If the enamel is damaged, you may feel a sharp pain when you sip something cold or take sugar-rich food. At times acidic food can also trigger pain. Some individuals may even feel pain while performing regular activities like brushing.

However, there are several ways to manage sensitivity, and some of them are listed below.

  • Use toothpaste that helps manage the sensitivity in a better manner. Some tubes of toothpaste have ingredients like potassium nitrate that help manage pain related to sensitivity.
  • Use a desensitizing gel. These gels numb your tooth, so even if you drink something that triggers sensitivity, you will not feel the pain.

Apart from this, the dentist also takes certain measures to lower the chances of sensitivity. Usually, the concentration of the whitening product is lowered if the patient has a very sensitive tooth. Also, the time between the two sessions can be adjusted to manage the symptoms of sensitivity in a better manner.

They Can Trouble The Soft Tissue In The Mouth

The gums are often affected by the whitening process. The hydrogen peroxide, which is used to bleach the teeth, also irritates the gum. However, managing gum-related pain and inflammation is not a difficult job. Gum irritation should resolve on its own after a few days. However, if the problem persists, simple measures like rinsing the mouth with salt water also helps.

The pain in the gums can also be managed by using over-the-counter pain medications like anti-inflammatory drugs.

They Can Aggravate Pre-Existing Problems

If your teeth are naturally healthy, then a whitening treatment should not do any permanent damage. However, if you have pre-existing adverse conditions, the problems can get aggravated. For instance, if the enamel is already weak, using abrasive agents can cause acute pain.

Moreover, if you have cavities, you must undertake any treatment only after considering medical advice. Most bleaching agents penetrate the teeth; if you have cavities, the chemicals can get lodged within these cavities. If the cavity is deep, this can cause extreme pain.

A cavity is most often infected with bacteria. The bacteria cause the pulp to expand, which may cause extreme pain (by pressing on the nerves). So if the bleaching agents get into the cavities, they may put additional pressure and irritate the nerves further.

So it is always advisable to fill the cavities before you get any whitening treatment.

Debunking Myths About The Whitening Process


There are many myths about the whitening process and its health implications. But the process is fairly simple, not painful and has no long-term side effects. Some of the myths around teeth whitening have been debunked here.

Bleaching Agents Do Not Cause Permanent And Irreversible Sensitivity

The sensitivity caused by the bleaching or abrasive agents is not permanent. On the contrary, the problem resolves within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the treatment. Also, the damage to the enamel is minimal. Problems arise only if the concentration of the bleaching agent is not appropriate. Hence it is essential to visit a dentist if you are using strong peroxides.

The purpose of the whitening agent is to open up the pores on the outer surface of the teeth. Once the pores are open, the cleaning agent can act on deep stains. However, this process in no way causes extreme damage to the teeth enamel.

The Whitening Process Is Not Painful

The treatment is painless. However, the bleaching agent may irritate the gum. Hence most dentists use a gel-like solution to protect the gums. The gel forms a protective covering on the soft tissue (gums) and prevents direct contact with the bleaching agent.

The Abrasive Agents Or Bleaching Agents Do Not Cause Cancer

Many people associate the occurrence of cancer with the use of whitening agents.But there is no solid scientific reason to believe that abrasive agents like charcoal or peroxides cause cancer.

Home-Based UV Kits Cause No Harm

According to the American Dental Association, UV kits are an approved treatment procedure. However, they mention office-based UV kits as a suitable whitening option and do not suggest home-based kits.

A dentist can regulate the amount of UV exposure to cause minimal or no harm. But in-home kits can be harmful if the UV exposure is not optimum. Home-based kits may be more convenient as you do not have to personally visit the dentist’s office, but they may not be completely safe.



Many people suffer from teeth discoloration but are opposed to whitening procedures as they are unaware of their impact on dental health. However, the procedures are quite safe, and complications arise only if the products are too concentrated and used inappropriately. Hence, if you visit a dentist the procedure can be smooth and healthy at the same time.