Fact Checked

Is Teeth Whitening Harmful?

Amy Hunter
Amy Hunter

Teeth whitening has become a common process, especially with affordable tooth whitening products are widely available at drug and grocery stores. With an increasing number of people using these products, it is easy to wonder if the process is safe. Researchers believe that whitening the teeth is remarkably safe, although it can cause some short-term problems.

Some people believe that teeth whitening is harmful because they experience pain after using the products. It is true that the ingredients used to whiten teeth can cause sensitivity in some people, but this does not lead to long-term damage. People who want to whiten their teeth, but who are concerned about tooth pain, may want to take several precautions to make the process more comfortable.

Tooth whitening trays are a popular method to utilize.
Tooth whitening trays are a popular method to utilize.

The whitening process can be very aggressive, so users should start with the mildest form of tooth whitening available. If the stains on the teeth are not significant, toothpaste with a whitening ingredient can be used along with specialty mouth rinses. These products have only mild tooth whitening abilities, but may be effective if the teeth are not severely stained.

Some toothpastes have whitening properties in them.
Some toothpastes have whitening properties in them.

If a person decides to use a more aggressive whitener, she should begin using toothpaste made for sensitive teeth a week before she starts the whitening process. These toothpastes are very effective at reducing sensitivity in the teeth and can make the tooth whitening experience pain-free. It does take some time to get the best results from this toothpaste, so even if the user doesn't experience completely relief from discomfort immediately, she should continue to use it.

People with white teeth.
People with white teeth.

Teeth whitening products are available in both paint-on applications and in trays that the person places in the mouth. The trays typically provide more noticeable results, but may not be the best for some people. Individuals who have sensitive gums or a small mouth may find them uncomfortable. The trays are not custom made for each person's mouth, so they don't fit all people well. The whitening solution can also get onto the gums, which many people find uncomfortable.

A man with white teeth.
A man with white teeth.

Paint-on products often provide less visible results, but the reason for this is often in the application. Because the whitening solution is painted onto the teeth and not held on with a tray, it is easy for it to be diluted by saliva or inadvertently swallowed. While this is not harmful, it can reduce the effectiveness of the product.

Regardless of the type of teeth whitening products that a person chooses, she can rest assured in knowing that they are generally harmless. Any pain experienced from the procedure is temporary, and it will not result in lasting harm. Although the process is harmless, most dental professionals recommend that people only do it once or twice a year.

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Discussion Comments


@feruze-- I don't know about the ones causing temporary whitening, I have never used them. But I have used a whitening booster as home teeth whitening.

I don't think it's harmful because it just has peroxide and calcium. Peroxide is the main ingredient in most whitening products so it can't be harmful. But the label does say that it shouldn't be used more than three times a day. So maybe it is harmful if it is used too often?

Whitening boosters don't work anyway. I've been using it for three months and my teeth are the same.


What about those teeth whitening products that cause teeth to become white for several hours? Are those harmful?

And also those gels that you can add to your toothpaste to improve its whitening effects, are those harmful?


@StarJo-- A couple of years ago, I noticed staining on my teeth which I suppose was from smoking and also tea and coffee. It wasn't extremely bad, but I became very conscious of it and I was restraining myself from smiling and showing my teeth.

I found this teeth whitening toothpaste at the store that was labeled for stained teeth from smoking and coffee. It sounded like just what I needed so I bought it and started using it.

That product was amazing! I usually used it in addition to my regular toothpaste or right afterward and in just two weeks, my teeth were pearly white. The stains completely disappeared and all my friends were commenting on my teeth.

Several months later, I stopped using that toothpaste and I can't find it in stores anymore. I would love to use it again though since it worked so well and it wasn't harmful.


My at-home teeth whitening plan consists of a whitening toothpaste and mouthwash. I don't have extremely yellow teeth, so I just need something to freshen them up.

I think that keeping the stains from setting in by using these gentle products every day is probably the best method. It actually prevents the yellowing before it has a chance to begin.


I'm glad to learn that teeth whitening is safe! I drink coffee and tea, so I have to whiten mine a couple of times a year.

I've been doing this at home, but my dentist is offering a new deal that I am going to take advantage of next time. He is offering free teeth whitening with every cleaning. Since I go to him every six months, this is perfect!


@Kristee – I've used those strips, and they are some of the best teeth whiteners that you can buy over-the-counter. I used them for years before having any problems.

The whitener does come in contact with your gums, and I think that is where the pain occurs. I felt shooting pains all along my gumline while I had the strips on one time, and I was scared to ever use them again.

However, the article offers some good tips to prevent pain. I might just try using the toothpaste for sensitive teeth and giving the strips another shot.


Has anyone here ever used those whitening strips that come preloaded with whitener? I've been wanting to try them, but there was something on the label about the possibility of pain, and that scared me.

I once had my teeth professionally whitened by a dentist, but this cost over $100. I simply can't afford to do that twice a year, so I'm looking for an at-home solution.



This is true, I think that American culture is so obsessed with having a perfect appearance that we are willing to go to drastic measures that can be harmful to our body. It is important to be wary of these practices and to recognize when they get out of hand. Looking good is a good thing, but obsessively trying to attain physical perfection is a self-destructive fight against the tide.



I agree with you here, and I would even go so far as to say that braces are an unnatural process and can cause long-term damage to the gums. While braces may be necessary in some cases, I believe that they are overused and are part of a big economy to get people's money because of their paranoia concerning appearance.


There are many processes for whitening the teeth, and some of them may seem somewhat unnatural. I have seen people with teeth that are so white that you can just tell they are not real. I think it is good to make sure your teeth aren't yellow, but if shining white isn't their natural color for you, it won't look right.


Sometimes the stinging sensation that comes with teeth whitening is a result of the feeling of having plaque and stains "scraped" from your teeth. The whitening tends to eat up the plaque and can cause the teeth to feel bare and vulnerable. The teeth are temporarily exposed while a new, whiter enamel layer is being established to displace the plaque.

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    • Tooth whitening trays are a popular method to utilize.
      By: dusk
      Tooth whitening trays are a popular method to utilize.
    • Some toothpastes have whitening properties in them.
      By: sumire8
      Some toothpastes have whitening properties in them.
    • People with white teeth.
      By: Darren Baker
      People with white teeth.
    • A man with white teeth.
      By: Yuri Arcurs
      A man with white teeth.
    • It is common to experience some amount of pain when whitening teeth.
      By: sanneberg
      It is common to experience some amount of pain when whitening teeth.