With bleaching, there are risks that need to be taken into account. Generally speaking, teeth whitener products are more or less safe for people, but there can be side effects to leaving a treatment in too long, or having a treatment that is too intense, or to having too high of a concentration of the chemical. Three very prominent risks are

  • Chemical burns, if the concentration is too high.  Usually a hydrogen peroxide gel is a 10% concentration, and carbamide peroxide gel is 6% concentration.  Keep this in mind as you read the packages of teeth whitener, and remember that if it is too high of concentration, then it might cause some damage to your Mucous Membranes
  • Overbleaching is caused when you leave the product in your mouth for well over the  period of time proscribed on the label, and you end up with “over-bright teeth”. In the box above, you can see a short (1 minute and change) video clip of my favorite episode of NCIS, where the main character actually did this and ended up with over-white teeth.
  • If you’re using a product that guarantees several shades whiter in one hour, it’s probably too good to be true.  It may last for an hour or so, then “rebound” will occur and your teeth will go back to their former color. Experts have found that a one-hour dentist’s chair session can cause a complete rebound within seven days! As the teeth rehydrate, they go back to being yellowed.

The product in teeth whitener bleaches is generally not harmful in the low doses that are proscribed.  Do not use if you are pregnant, nursing, or a child.  If you have questions, ask your dentist or other oral care professional. The best source of information are the people who have gone to dentistry school and know all about these products. They are a great resource to turn to when you need advice regarding the risk of at home whitening products.