Common Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

We all want straight and brighter teeth. You may be wondering if there is a solution to your stained teeth or if you are a good candidate for cosmetic dental treatments.

Before you start teeth whitening, there are some things that you should know—the procedure, the type of whitener, and what happens after the procedure.

Teeth whitening is a great way to improve your smile and make the appearance of your teeth look whiter and brighter. Yet, just like any other dental treatment, it has potential risks and long-term side effects. Here, we will discuss the side effects of teeth whitening and answer your question of whether this is a safe treatment for your teeth.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is one of the popular procedures in cosmetic dentistry that is painless, effective, and inexpensive, making it a popular choice among people. It can lighten the colour of your teeth and make them look brighter, and achieve whiter teeth, which is a great boost in confidence.

Teeth whitening is the procedure of removing dark stains from the enamel surface of your teeth to give you a bright smile. This method has been used for hundreds of years. The treatment involves a bleaching agent called hydrogen peroxide that is responsible for lightening your teeth by reducing dark pigments in your teeth.

The whitening procedure can be done in a dental office by the dentist, and it is called in-chair teeth whitening. A dental professional is licenced to include a higher amount of hydrogen peroxide for its effectiveness. On the other hand, you can do it yourself by purchasing over-the-counter whitening products or at-home whitening kits offered by your dentist.

The longevity of the teeth whitening process varies depending on the kind of treatment you prefer, your lifestyle, the food and drinks you consume, and proper care. It is important to practise good oral hygiene to maintain healthy, clean, and white teeth. Having an oral hygiene routine will be beneficial not only for your oral health but also for your overall physical health and appearance.

Possible Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

In recent years, more people have become aware of the treatment’s potential benefits. While it is effective and offers quick results, patients should consider the common side effects. The chemicals present in whitening products may increase sensitivity or may have other unintended consequences.


Following teeth whitening, your teeth may become more sensitive. This may occur on your first or second treatment and may subside with time.

According to the American Dental Association, sensitivity may be related to dental pulp inflammation caused by peroxide exposure during treatment. The severity of the sensitivity can be influenced by a number of factors, including the peroxide content, the presence of restorations, and even the amount of light used.

Before whitening, talk to your dentist if you are a good candidate for the procedure and which teeth whitening solutions are best for you if you have sensitive teeth.

Your dentist can also provide you with a list of whitening products and brands that may minimise sensitivity during the whitening procedure. They may recommend using products containing potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride gel to treat sensitivity.

If the intensity of tooth sensitivity persists, you should contact your doctor right away.

Soft Tissue Irritation

One of the several risks linked with tooth whitening is a chemical burn, especially if you’re doing at-home whitening. The solution has the potential to irritate soft tissues such as your gums and oral mucosa, exposing and leaving them raw or uncomfortable for several days following use.

Carbamide Peroxide, which is essential for bleaching teeth successfully, is found in high concentrations in most teeth whitening treatments. However, the excessive concentration could damage the gingival tissue and other delicate tissues around your mouth. 

Dental professionals are both trained and legally permitted to use a greater variety of dental bleaching solutions. They will do all necessary measures to protect your gums and other delicate tissues from teeth whitening procedures. Yet, the active ingredient can still seep into the gums, causing undesirable chemical reactions that cause discomfort and irritation. On the other hand, the gum tissue should mend within a few hours after being exposed to the teeth whitening process.

Although the tissue quickly returns to normal after being exposed to the whitening product’s ingredients, many patients are concerned when they view their gums after being exposed to a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide carbamide peroxide.

Long Term Side Effects of Teeth Whitening 

Teeth whitening typically yields impressive effects. However, it is essential to use the right amount in the right way – going too far with teeth bleaching might lead to long-term dental damage.

Bleaching products can have various negative side effects, including dental enamel damage, gum irritation, risk of tooth sensitivity, and more. Some of these consequences are permanent; for example, tooth enamel damage is permanent. 

There is a clear risk of overuse or abuse when using over-the-counter bleaching treatments like strips, paint-on, or trays. With so many over-the-counter bleaching options available nowadays, many are enticed to buy and apply these treatments themselves without completely understanding the risks.

Furthermore, over-whitening can cause teeth to appear dull, brittle, and translucent, as well as discoloured and grey. When this happens, veneers may be an option to restore your teeth’s natural appearance.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Teeth whitening is a non-invasive procedure that is safe when performed correctly. The majority of teeth whitening treatments contain a hydrogen peroxide solution that is safe. During the bleaching process, this ingredient will dissolve into water and oxygen. Additionally, dental sensitivity and inflammation are possible adverse effects. When misused and done too much, however, it might result in irreparable dental enamel erosion.

The research finds that performing at-home teeth whitening or DIY whitening kits must be supervised by an oral health care specialist to prevent potential dangers and maximise whitening results. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) further suggests that you only whiten your teeth after consulting with a dentist to ensure that it is a good fit for you.

Furthermore, the whitening solution will not work on caps, crowns, veneers, or fillings.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe for Pregnant Women?

Professional whitening entails applying a chemical solution to your teeth. There are a few variations on the procedure, but in either case, the bleaching agent will be applied to your teeth and left on for some time before removing them.

There’s no proof that teeth whitening is harmful to pregnant women, but there’s also no evidence that it is safe. Teeth whitening techniques involve higher concentrations of chemicals than we ordinarily come into contact with.

Whitening treatments should be avoided, especially during the third trimester, due to the discomfort produced by lying flat for an extended period of time and the possible risks of undergoing this type of treatment while pregnant.

Generally speaking, most health practitioners recommend postponing any procedure during pregnancy to be safe, especially since the pregnant body is more vulnerable to infection or injury.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, whitening your teeth is found to be safe as long as you use dentist-approved methods. When teeth whitening procedures are performed poorly, they can lead to poor results and even long-term harm. Always use the technique that best suits your needs and always follow the product manufacturer’s instructions. If you have any adverse side effects, talk to your dentist immediately.

The long-term effects of teeth whitening have not been proven to be harmful to pregnant women. No current studies prove adverse effects on pregnant women. But theoretically, several side effects can put mothers and their unborn children at high risk. Thus, postponing dental treatments is recommended.

While teeth whitening side effects are relatively uncommon, it is always a good idea to be aware of potential tooth bleaching risks to avoid them. Remember to address your dental history with your dentist before considering any teeth whitening process, especially if you have had previous teeth whitening treatments and dental restoration with other dentists.

We hope this blog helped you understand the possible side effects of teeth whitening treatment. If you are ready to undergo it, contact us today! 

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Peel Dental Studio

Dr. Bailey formerly served on the Australian Dental Association as President, Vice President Treasurer and Country Councillor. He was on the Australian Dental Association Federal Council and has always been keen to give back to the profession that has been his life. He has tutored student dentists at the Oral Health Centre in Perth.