The market for teeth whitening is huge and it comes as no surprise. White teeth are seen as beautiful, healthy, and youthful. It’s hard to escape the barrage of white teeth, as our media is filled with images of perfect teeth whether it’s in advertisements and commercials, movies, or even the nightly news. One thing is clear; white teeth are a big deal in America.
Teeth whitening is defined by the American Dental Association as any process that makes the teeth appear whiter. There are many ways to achieve whiter teeth but they are categorized into two major groups: peroxide-containing bleaching agents, and non-bleaching whitening products.
Products that contain peroxide bleaching agents and can change the natural tooth color by bleaching surface stains and deep stains. These products are available to consumers through dentist application or over the counter. Tooth and gum sensitivity are noted side effects, but peroxide based bleaching products are considered safe if they have the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Non-bleaching whitening agents remove only surface level stains and include products like whitening toothpaste or mouthwash. Whitening toothpastes use gentle polishing and other non-bleaching actions to remove stains. Though this type of whitening cannot reach past surface level, it is considered very gentle and effective.
All this talk about white teeth leaves us with one important question – is teeth whitening ultimately safe?
Over the last two decades, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs has monitored the increasing demand for whitening products and studied the effects, giving us the final conclusion: yes, the current teeth whitening products on the market are safe and effective.
However, the ADA recommends that you consult a dentist before using bleaching products as improper use can cause irreversible damage in some rare occurrences. Your dentist may suggest a non-bleaching method if you have gum disease, very worn tooth enamel, or tooth colored dental work in your front teeth.
If you’ve been considering brightening your smile, know that consulting a dentist is very important, but whitening is ultimately a very safe and effective process.