Teeth Whitening Product Safety


Can whiteners damage your teeth? From an ADA link : "Well" spokesperson Dr. Edmond Hewlett weighs in for The New York Times.


There is no indication that frequent, long-term use of teeth whitening strips cause damage, said Dr. Denis Kinane, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

He said he was initially worried that repeated usage might damage cells within the dentin, the layer just beneath the enamel. But “there’s no evidence that there’s any detrimental effect,” he said.

Whitening strips bleach the part of the tooth just beneath the enamel, changing its color, though the effects are temporary. Coffee, wine and – especially smoking – can re-stain the teeth.

Whiteners may cause pain in sensitive teeth in the short term, especially for younger people. But any sensitivity is likely to go away once the whitening is stopped, said Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a spokesman for the American Dental Association and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry.

There would also be no biological reason for whitening strips or the tooth-whitening trays used by dentists to cause any harm in the long-term when used properly, he said. Their active ingredient is generally hydrogen peroxide, which breaks down in the body into water and a harmless compound called urea, he said.

Dr. Hewlett said he is more concerned about people trying to remove stains by overly aggressive brushing, which can damage the tooth structure and leave ruts that may lead to cavities.

People who are concerned about the color of their teeth should talk to their dentist about which product is right for them, and to ensure that the cause of discoloration isn’t tooth decay, he said.

Dr. Kinane said his only concern with whiteners is that many people – including his daughter – seem to get “addicted” to super-white teeth.

“Pure white is not what natural teeth look like,” he said.