When you notice the color of your teeth starting to tarnish and you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive fix, it can be tempting to purchase the first at-home whitening kit you see. However, if you’re expecting a dramatically whiter smile as advertised, it may not give you the exact results you’re hoping for. While these packages are often marketed in such appealing ways to attract the uninformed consumer, it is a wise practice to check the ingredients and potential risks involved to avoid irreversible damage to your mouth, gums, and teeth.
Whitening kits often have flashy packaging that displays unrealistic promises to drastically whiten your teeth in a very short period of time. While there is some truth to the outcomes associated with the active ingredients in these kits, they can also be harmful or ineffective depending on the concentration of these ingredients. When purchasing an over-the-counter whitening kit, you must first understand that not all are FDA regulated or approved.
Not only should this cause concern in terms of safety and effectiveness, but it is also difficult to hold the manufacturing companies accountable should the product cause adverse effects. This is due to at-home teeth whitening kits being classified as cosmetic, rather than a drug that requires regulation, and warnings are including on the packaging. Essentially, you never know how the ingredients in these whitening kits will affect you personally. In many cases, they cause more harm than good. Additionally, many of the claims and success stories advertised cannot always be backed up with scientific evidence.
What Active Ingredients Can Be Damaging And Why?
Many teeth whitening kits contain abrasive ingredients that work to polish your teeth in order to remove the stains on the enamel. This can be effective, but also damaging if not done correctly. An example of this is activated charcoal teeth whitener. Charcoal is an excellent binding agent and works well when it comes to absorbing surface stains on your teeth. However, some users don’t follow the directions carefully and end up scrubbing their teeth rather than gently applying and rinsing away. The scrubbing action can cause small grooves or abrasions to the enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to cavities and sensitivity.
UV and LED Lamps
You should also be wary of any kits that require UV or LED lights or any other form of laser whitening techniques. Without professional supervision and application, you could potentially be causing damage without knowing it.
Can At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits Damage Gums?
When teeth whitening agents are applied correctly, there is minimal risk for damaging gums. However, when it comes to at-home teeth whitening kits, some people fail to follow the instructions carefully. Without a dental professional to apply the whitening gel or fit your mouth with a high-quality tray, the whitening ingredients can inadvertently end up on your gums or other areas of the mouth.
The most common side effect is gum sensitivity and irritation. This is similar to a mild chemical burn due to the bleaching chemicals used in whitening treatments being exposed to the soft tissue surrounding the tooth. If you have particularly sensitive gums or periodontal disease, the effects can be even harsher and take longer to heal. If you are experiencing issues with your gums, it’s always best to see a dental professional before using any at-home whitening kits to prevent further gum problems.
Risks of At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits
The bottom line is you only get one set of adult teeth, so you should be careful when it comes to any type of at-home treatment. Without a dental professional to supervise the application of bleaching or abrasive whitening agents, you could potentially be causing irreversible damage to your teeth and mouth. Additionally, at-home teeth whitening kits generally don’t produce the results they promise as quickly as advertised, leading people to overindulge or misuse the products. Damage to teeth enamel, dental nerves, and gums can be the result of this user error. It’s always best to seek professional teeth whitening services if you’re looking to quickly and effectively whiten your teeth.