Does Teeth Whitening Damage Enamel?

Posted on: 12 March 2018

When you hear the term "bleaching" in regards to teeth whitening, you might find yourself thinking of typical household bleach. There are, however, very few similarities between household bleach and the solution used to whiten teeth.

Standard bleach contains poisonous chemicals such as sodium chlorate and sodium polyacrylate. If used to whiten teeth, household bleach will damage enamel and gum tissue. The chemicals contained in whitening gels, carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, will not damage tooth enamel if used as instructed.

Teeth Whitening Is Safe for Teeth

Up until the late 1980s when the teeth whitening properties of peroxide were discovered by accident, it wasn't possible to whiten teeth. Whitening toothpaste was also invented in the late '80s. Fast forward around 30 years to the present, and teeth whitening has become a popular modern trend.

Across the span of time, there has never been any indication that teeth whitening damages or removes, enamel. However, too much of anything—even water—is harmful to your health. A study in 2014 found that aggressive teeth whitening could soften enamel and lead to demineralization.

Whitening Trays Should Be Used Responsibly

When using whitening trays purchased over the counter, follow the instructions given on the packaging. As mentioned earlier, if you try to speed up the whitening process by using more whitening gel, you will damage your teeth. The same applies to the duration of whitening. Whitening your teeth for longer than is recommended could damage your teeth.

Similarly, if you purchase custom whitening trays from your dentist, follow their instructions. If, for example, a friend of yours tells you that you are not whitening for long enough, or that you are not using enough gel, don't follow their advice. Your dentist has examined your teeth and tailored your treatment specifically for your teeth, not your friend's teeth.

Not All Whitening Gels Are Equal

Whitening gels vary in strength. If a patient's teeth have a thin layer of enamel, a dentist will consider this when tailoring their treatment. For example, they may provide the patient with a whitening gel that contains a small amount of hydrogen peroxide so as not to damage the enamel or cause sensitivity.

What works for a friend then, will not work for you.

If you are worried that teeth whitening will damage your teeth, consult your dentist about it. No two sets of teeth are the same. Some people have thin enamel; others have a thick layer of enamel. Each case is unique and requires a different approach. Speak to your dentist and have them recommend a teeth whitening treatment that is suitable and safe for your teeth.