Risks of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening may be a recommended procedure for all patients that have stained, yellow or discolored teeth. Presently, the options of teeth whitening range from the in office bleaching with laser beams to the at home bleaching kits. If you are thinking about whitening your teeth, you have to bear in mind that there may be a few risks involved, especially if you have sensitive teeth and use a home whitening kit. Bleaching your teeth is typically safe, but when the procedure is not preformed properly, there may be risks ranging from the irritation of gum tissue to increased teeth sensitivity.


Even if teeth whitening is typically known as a pain free procedure, if you have sensitive teeth, you may experience pain during the bleaching and your teeth will be more sensitive for several weeks after the treatment.

Irritated Gums

The gum tissue may get irritated if you bleach your teeth, but only if the bleaching solution touches your gums. This happens mostly with at home bleaching kits, as the gum tissue may be accidentally touched by the bleach. However, the bleaching agent has a very low concentration (around 10% of hydrogen peroxide) and this will result in minor swelling that should subside. In any case, you will have to discontinue using the product and consult a doctor if the irritation persists for several days after you discontinue using the product.

The teeth whitening products used in dental offices have a higher concentration of bleaching agents (20%), but the dental professional will typically take all the cautionary measures (i.e. applying a protective dam on the gums) to protect the gums when applying the whitening solution.

Allergic Reactions to Bleach

In rare cases, allergic reactions to the bleaching agents may occur. However, this side effect is only possible if the bleach touches your gums and if you are allergic to hydroxide peroxide (which is the substance present in the bleaching agent).

Stains on Teeth

Typically, teeth whitening is recommended for a wide range of patients and will have the desired effects, whitening the teeth by three to eight shades, depending on the procedure performed.

However, it may happen that some stains may persist on the teeth. It’s best to consult your dentist prior to getting any type of teeth bleaching, even if you get an at home bleaching kit.

You should also be aware of the fact that if you have any fillings, especially in the front teeth or more visible areas, the whitening agent will not bleach the fillings. There may be a color difference between the teeth and the fillings. Your dentist will recommend you get a teeth whitening prior to getting your fillings.

Negative Reactions If Ingested

The bleaching solution should not be ingested. If you accidentally ingest the bleach, you may vomit and have an upset stomach. You should also consult a doctor, as the bleach may cause severe damage if ingested in high amounts.

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