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Can Bleaching Your Teeth Damage Your Smile?

March 22, 2022
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Posted By: South Chico Dental Care
A woman with white teeth in Chico, CA

Over the years, a bright white smile has become a symbol of health and status, especially to Americans. Tooth bleaching can help you maintain your bright smile, but how safe is it for your teeth and enamel? Let's take a look.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

When it's time to whiten your teeth, you'll choose between using over-the-counter (OTC) products vs. professional teeth whitening with your dentist. OTC products may include:

  • Whitening or bleaching strips – Thin, sticky plastic strips coated with bleaching gel that fit over your teeth
  • Bleaching trays – Generic, one-size-fits-all plastic trays that fit over your teeth after you apply the whitening gel
  • Whitening toothpaste – Toothpaste that contains chemicals or polishing agents that aid in stain removal
  • Whitening rinses – A rinse or mouthwash containing bleaching ingredients like hydrogen peroxide that you'll swish in your mouth before brushing your teeth

Professional teeth whitening in Chico, CA at South Chico Dental Care gives you two effective options to choose from:

  • In-office teeth whitening: Ideal for those patients looking for immediate results, perhaps before a wedding, vacation, or other significant events.
  • Take-home bleaching kits: Customized teeth whitening kits containing professional-strength bleaching gel that you can use safely and comfortably at home.

Chemical Reactions Equal Brighter Smiles

So now that you understand your options, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of teeth whitening. How does bleaching gel actually work?

Teeth bleaching gels contain peroxide ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which is a type of hydrogen peroxide. The peroxides create a chemical reaction on your teeth with stains or discolorations, which change their chemical structure and eliminate their staining appearance.

Some bleaching gels, especially the kind your dentist uses, include potassium nitrate and amorphous calcium phosphate that help reduce or eliminate tooth sensitivity. Most tooth sensitivity experienced during bleaching is temporary.

Recent Studies on Hydrogen Peroxide

A study done in 2019 on teeth whitening strips has determined that the active ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, found in teeth bleaching gels could be damaging the dentin layer of the teeth.

Teeth have three layers: hard and shiny enamel, dentin (the middle layer), and the soft inner layer containing nerves and connective tissue.

This study found that hydrogen peroxide can reach the tooth's dentin layer, impacting and fragmenting the collagen that resides there and resulting in collagen loss. However, we should also note that researchers aren't sure whether the damage is permanent or has lasting effects.

What Does This Mean for Your Smile?

The good news is that hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening products have been in use and on the market for decades, without any proof or results of tooth fracturing or increased risk of developing tooth decay.

Choosing professional teeth whitening with your dentist in Chico, CA is even safer and more effective than using OTC products for these reasons:

  • Your dentist has access to prescription-strength bleaching gels that deliver better results, typically with less sensitivity or discomfort.
  • Your dentist creates customized bleaching trays with impressions of your teeth, which keeps bleaching gel centralized and prevents it from escaping and causing harm to sensitive soft tissues and gums.
  • Your dentist will ensure that your teeth are healthy, clean, and ready for teeth bleaching, which helps improve your results.
  • Your dentist can assist if you have any concerns with safety or tooth sensitivity.

You can also discuss your concerns with tooth enamel safety with your dentist so they can prescribe the right strength and type of bleaching gel for your smile.

Protecting Your Investment

Unfortunately, teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure, and you will have to update your bleaching over time to maintain your bright, white smile.

With that said, however, there are some steps you can take at home to keep your smile white and bright:

  • Commit to an excellent home care routine of brushing at least twice per day and flossing at least once
  • Visit your dentist every six months for routine checkups and professional teeth cleanings
  • Limit your consumption of tooth-staining foods and beverages
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Quit lifestyle habits like smoking or tobacco use, which severely stains and discolors teeth

Taking care of your smile will protect it from discoloration and limit the number of times you have to bleach your teeth.

Some of the tooth-staining foods and beverages to be aware of are:

  • Coffee and black tea
  • Red wine
  • Dark colas
  • Blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries
  • Curries
  • Tomato sauces or marinara
  • Soy sauce

Contact South Chico Dental Care for More Information About Teeth Whitening

If you'd like to learn more about the possibility of brightening your smile with professional teeth whitening in Chico, CA, we would love to answer your questions!

Contact South Chico Dental Care today at (530) 636-4943 for more information.

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