Teeth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic dental procedures. If you’re dealing with yellow, badly stained, or discolored teeth, this type of treatment can help you get the pearly white smile you see on TV.
But the most common question patients have about teeth whitening concerns its potential side effects. Does teeth whitening actually damage the enamel?
Here’s the definitive answer:
How Teeth Whitening Works
There is a bit of a misconception regarding how teeth-whitening treatments actually work. Many patients believe they bleach the teeth since the treatments contain what’s called a "bleaching agent", usually some form of peroxide.
However, teeth whitening treatments don’t actually bleach the teeth. Instead, they help break down the molecules found on the surface of the teeth that cause stains, such as those you can get from exposing teeth to coffee or wine.
Does the Process Damage Your Teeth?
When done correctly, teeth-whitening treatments don’t cause any damage to tooth enamel. Patients should be careful when it comes to over-the-counter and at-home remedies for whitening. These kits can cause damage if you don’t follow the instructions and expose your teeth to the whitening agent longer than advised.
However, when opting for professional teeth whitening, the process is supervised by a trained professional, so the risk for side effects is much lower.
Most patients can experience some increased tooth sensitivity right after their whitening treatment, but it usually goes away in a few days.
How to Actually Protect Tooth Enamel
There are other things you might be doing that affect tooth enamel without even realizing it. The problem with enamel is that it doesn’t regenerate, so any damage that occurs is permanent.
Here’s how you can protect tooth enamel:
- Avoid acidic and sugary foods and drinks: Acidic foods and drinks, when consumed in large quantities, can lead to enamel erosion and make the teeth weaker. Lots of sugars also increase your risk for cavities.
- Reduce the amounts of hard food you eat: Hard foods like chips and crackers need more pressure during chewing. This can eventually wear down the enamel and increase the risk of cracks and chips.
- Wear a mouthguard: If you grind your teeth while sleeping, you can wear down tooth enamel tremendously. A mouthguard can help protect your teeth.
- Improve your oral hygiene routine: Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing significantly reduce the risk of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues.
- Get routine cleanings and checkups: Dental cleanings provide a thorough cleaning of your teeth and help keep your oral health in check long-term.
Interested in Teeth Whitening?
If you want to get a pearly white smile, Dr. Steve Hong can help you access both in-office and at-home professional tooth whitening services.
Schedule a consultation at Rainier Smiles Dentistry online, or call us at (253) 565-1695 today for more information.