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Does Teeth Whitening Damage Enamel?

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Many people strive for a bright, white smile. Fortunately, with the rise of teeth-whitening treatments like the Zoom whitening offered at Hometown Dental, achieving a bright and shining smile is easier than ever. But there’s an important question worth asking: Does teeth whitening damage enamel?

Teeth whitening is typically safe when performed by an experienced dentist. The concentration of bleaching agents used can’t harm your teeth. However, home whitening kits often found online may not be ideal for your teeth; it can help to consult with your dentist if you’re considering a take-home teeth whitening kit.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Your teeth are naturally an off-white shade rather than the bright and shining white we’ve grown used to seeing in advertisements, TV shows, and movies. This is due to their physical makeup: the enamel, which is partially transparent, and the dentin, the inner part that is often a yellow shade.

Over time, these 2 layers become stained, often due to:

  • Consumption of foods and drinks that stain teeth, like coffee, tea, wine, and berries
  • Tobacco usage
  • Age-related changes in the teeth
  • Poor oral hygiene

This staining process is completely natural and happens all the time. Fortunately, teeth whitening can help brighten your smile and remove these stains, leaving nothing behind but shining teeth.

This is done using special bleaching agents, like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These bleaching agents can be activated with special lasers to penetrate the enamel, oxidize the stains, break them into smaller pieces, and then dissolve them. Meanwhile, they also lighten the naturally-yellow dentin, making your teeth brighter than before.

Different Types of Teeth Whitening

When it comes to teeth whitening, it may seem confusing at first. There isn’t just one type of whitening. Many options range from in-office sessions to take-home kits to toothpaste.

Here at Hometown Dental, we use the Zoom whitening treatment for our clients. This in-office process is a safe and simple approach, using hydrogen peroxide and the Zoom light to penetrate the enamel and speed up the bleaching process.

However, alternative options exist, like:

  • At-home whitening strips
  • Whitening toothpaste
  • LED teeth whitening kits
  • Custom-fitted trays

These take-home options can be ideal if you prefer the comfort of your own home. However, it’s important to note that dentists have experience with teeth-whitening procedures. While a take-home kit may give short-term results, it rarely has long-lasting effects—especially when compared to treatments like Zoom whitening.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Safety should always be the top priority whenever you try a new product, and cosmetic dentistry is no exception.

That’s why we’re happy to announce that in-office teeth whitening can’t damage your enamel. The concentration of bleaching agents used isn’t high enough to damage teeth. Instead, it simply penetrates the enamel, breaks down the stains, and then is removed easily.

However, take-home kits may be a different story and can vary from product to product. While it’s unlikely that they can damage your enamel, you may experience:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Gum irritation
  • Overall discomfort in the mouth

If you ever notice significant discomfort, irritation, or pain when using an at-home whitening kit, stop using it immediately and contact your dentist. You may be reacting to the chemicals used, or there may be a problem with the product. Either way, don’t put yourself at risk. Instead, reach out to a dental professional for help.

The Benefits of a Teeth Whitening Appointment

If you’re considering teeth whitening, it’s worth contacting your dentist for a proper teeth whitening appointment. While at-home kits can provide temporary results—typically lasting for a few months or less after using the kit—in-office sessions are an easy way to achieve long-lasting results.

The concentration in dental scenarios is often higher, though carefully administered and handled to prioritize safety. 

In addition, your dentist will check for any other problems that could be causing the stains and give you up-to-date advice on maintaining your new bright smile. They’ll likely finish the session by offering you a take-home kit designed to work alongside your in-office treatment. This way, you can maintain your results for a long, long time.

A man in an dentist's office shaking hands with his dentist

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

Investing your time and money into your smile makes it natural to wonder how long the results will last.

When you use an in-office treatment like our Zoom whitening, you can expect results to last around 1-3 years and potentially longer—it depends on your lifestyle and habits. Your results can last for years if you have proper oral hygiene, avoid staining foods, and regularly visit your dentist.

With take-home kits, the results often last a few months or so. It depends on the kit being used, the bleaching agent in the kit, and how regularly you use the product. If used as recommended, you may experience results lasting up to a full year!

Teeth Whitening in Okotoks

If you’re considering trying teeth whitening, contact our team at Hometown Dental. We can explain the process, answer any questions, and schedule your appointment. You deserve to smile bright, so book an appointment with our team today!

Written by Dr. JJ

Meet the leader of the Hometown Dental team — Dr. JJ!

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