In Depth

Your Smile, Your Life ™

Teeth Whitening: A Safe Procedure

"I was more than pleased with my visit and meeting Dr. Rye and his office staff. The office procedure was very smooth and Dr. Rye took his time in his examination and was very thorough in same. I look forward to my next visit in 2 weeks for a treatment analysis."

Mary C

It seems as if every time a cosmetic procedure becomes popular, there are those who claim that there’s something unsafe about it. Sometimes these claims are based on valid concerns, but other times they are based on outdated information.

With teeth whitening, one of the most common concerns is that the enamel of teeth will be damaged in the whitening process, or that whitening products actually strip the enamel off your teeth. This concern most likely comes from information about older whitening products, and this information is not reflective of how the current generation of whitening products work.

In the 1970s and ’80s, for example, there were certain whitening products that worked by using abrasive creams to physically scrub the stain off the teeth. While these products did work to a great extent, they did in fact remove some of the tooth enamel in the process.

Today’s whitening products are much more advanced and are chemical-based rather than abrasive. If you get your whitening done professionally by the dentist, the procedure is perfectly safe for your tooth enamel. There is no abrasion and the chemicals react with the stain to remove the discoloration. The active ingredient in the chemicals neutralizes quickly, so it does no long-term harm to your teeth or gums.

In the short term, some patients may experience temperature sensitivity after a whitening procedure. This is temporary and poses no long-term risk. Usually within a week or two, most patients report that their teeth are feeling normal again, and looking better than they have in years.

Many studies have been conducted on the safety of teeth whitening, and no long-term negative effects have been reported. If you are concerned about tooth sensitivity after the procedure, you can discuss those concerns with the dentist at the time of your consultation.

As for your teeth-whitening options, you can either come into our Fairfax office for in-office power bleaching, or you may choose an at-home whitening system where you will be given custom fit bleaching trays to wear at night. Power bleaching takes less tim,e but requires you to come in for several appointments; at-home bleaching takes longer, but may be more convenient for those patients who have scheduling issues.

Whichever option you choose will result in a safe whitening procedure and a beautiful, bright smile!

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