Yes, teeth whitening is safe.
Certain teeth-whitening products that are applied in a dentist’s office, along with those that are provided there, carry the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This means that those bleaching agents have been approved because they are considered to be both safe and effective. However, the organization does not recommend such products if they are sold over the counter because its members feel that they should not be used without consulting with a healthcare professional.
Note also that some manufacturers do not look for ADA approval because the program is voluntary, and participation would require significant time and expense on their part. When you discover such a product, this is not an indication that it is harmful in any way, but you can safely use those carrying the seal, as long as you follow the directions carefully.
What You Should Know
The result of clinical trials conducted by Cochrane Collaboration, an independent organization, indicated that bleaching agents do seem to be effective. However, they also noted that consumers need to be well-informed about their side effects, including gum irritation and tooth sensitivity, and that additional independent research was needed.
Tooth whitening products are not recommended for anyone who falls into one of the following categories:
- Those who are below the age of 16,
- Females who are breast feeding or pregnant,
- Those who are allergic to peroxide or have sensitive teeth, and
- People with worn tooth enamel or gum disease
This treatment is not recommended for children because, at their age, the tooth’s nerve chamber is enlarged, and tooth whitening may result in heightened tooth sensitivity. Also, those who have restorations, crowns, or fillings should be cautious when planning this procedure because they will not respond to bleaching, but their natural teeth will-and they need to consider what the overall effect may be. Also, tetracycline causes dark stains that are particularly difficult to whiten, and several sessions may be required.
“Risks Associated With Teeth Whitening,” MedicineNet.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 August 2010. http://www.medicinenet.com/teeth_whitening/page4.htm#products>
“Time for tooth whitening?” Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 August 2010.
Natalie Wong Camarata, “Blinded by the White,” Health Leader: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. N.d., Web. 19 August 2010. http://www.healthleader.uthouston.edu/archive/Oral_Health/2008/blindedwhite.htm>