Are Over-The-Counter Teeth Whitening Products Okay for Everyone? What to Do When They’re Not for You

If you believe the claims of many over-the-counter products, their teeth whitening system is quick and easy. This is often true, but it's not true for everyone. There are some instances where over-the-counter teeth whitening products should not be used. But what can you do if this applies to you?

Young People

Teeth whitening is not a good idea for younger people whose pulp chamber (your tooth's nerve) is still developing. This can often be the case until a person reaches their mid to late teens, the exact age varies from patient to patient. Your dentist will be able to tell you when it's safe to use whitening products and it might be preferable to have your dentist perform the treatment, as it can be less abrasive than over-the counter products.

What to Do Instead: Use whitening toothpaste and gum (which are safe while the pulp chamber is still developing) until such time as a chemical whitening treatment can be used.

Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

Most teeth whitening treatments use hydrogen peroxide and there's always the chance that a miniscule amount of this compound can be swallowed during the treatment. While it's harmless in such a small amount, there is the possibility that the hydrogen peroxide could be passed along to the baby in utero or via breastfeeding. Dentists generally suggest that you wait until you've discontinued breastfeeding before having your teeth whitened.

What to Do Instead: Brush your teeth with baking soda. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda over a damp toothbrush head and brush your teeth as per normal. This will at least lighten your teeth until such time as your dentist gives the all-clear for chemical whitening treatment. There might also be some non-peroxide whitening options available, and your dentist at a place like Hopkins Street Dental will be able to advise you.

People with an Allergy to Peroxide

Ever dyed your hair? Most types of hair dye instruct you to carry out a spot allergy test to ensure that you're not allergic to the peroxide in the dye. If you have an allergy to peroxide, do not use over-the-counter teeth whitening treatments under any circumstances.

What to Do Instead: Speak to your dentist as there might be some non-peroxide whitening options that are suitable for you.

People with Gum Disease, Cavities and Other Dental Problems

While perfectly safe, teeth whitening can be somewhat abrasive on your teeth. If your teeth are significantly decayed, then the whitening process can be harmful. The hydrogen peroxide can easily penetrate your pulp chamber which can be rather painful. Over-the-counter whitening treatments are not in fact strong enough to cover a tooth that has permanently changed colour due to reduced enamel. A cosmetic dentist will need to cover such a tooth with a dental veneer.

What to Do Instead: See your dentist and have your dental problems repaired. When your teeth and gums are healthy, there will be no reason why you cannot use whitening products.

So while not everyone is a candidate for over-the-counter teeth whitening products, it's good to know that there are remedies and alternative options available.