Does Professional Teeth Whitening Have Any Side Effects?

Posted by Gregg L Lage DDS Dec 02, 2020

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A study by the American Association of Orthodontics revealed that over 30% of Americans are dissatisfied with their smiles, so it is no wonder that so many people turn to professional teeth whitening. A common problem for many smiles lies in tooth discoloration or stains that diminish a pearly-white appearance. Since going through life too self-conscious or embarrassed to smile is no fun for anyone, it is only natural to want the sparkle in teeth restored.

Understanding teeth whitening

Before receiving a whitening treatment, the causes for teeth discoloration must first be determined. This can help a dentist decide what process will work most effectively for each patient.

Extrinsic discoloration

Teeth may become discolored from exposure to external variables that are prone to causing stains. These include certain foods and drinks, as well as smoking. Some things people consume on a daily basis like coffee, tea and red wine can cause significant staining. The tobacco from cigarettes also causes teeth to yellow.

Intrinsic discoloration

Not all staining is a result from an outside force. Intrinsic discoloration comes from within a tooth. Sometimes medication, infection and age can play a role in teeth gradually becoming discolored.

Teeth whitening at the dentist’s office

Professional teeth whitening procedures occur at the dentist. These appointments usually take around 30 minutes to an hour, during which the dentist applies whitening material to teeth for small intervals of about 15-20 minutes. If discoloration is particularly persistent, another appointment may be needed. Receiving the procedure at the dentist is one of the fastest ways to get teeth whitened, and the effects may last longer, requiring less frequent visits for touch-ups.

Touch-up treatments at home

A dentist may decide to send a patient home with a teeth whitening touch-up kit. The kit includes a tray that has been molded and fitted to the patient’s teeth so that they can wear it comfortably at home. A gel added to tray and applied to the teeth can help the whitening to last longer.

Side effects

Questions regarding safety may linger in a patient’s mind when considering professional teeth whitening. However, this procedure has proved to be safe and reliable. There are a couple of small side effects to prepare for following a whitening. Both should dissipate as teeth become adjusted to the whitening process.


Teeth may be more sensitive to hot, cold and sugary foods a few days after being whitened. Avoiding eating things like soup or ice cream can decrease the chances of triggering that sensitivity.

Gum irritation

It is possible that gums came in contact with the teeth whitening material. As a result, they may also be sensitive or irritated to the touch for a brief period.


Patients should ask a dentist about any side effects that may affect them individually. Discussing other dental cosmetics, like crowns or bridges, may be necessary to determine how the whitening is applied, but it should not keep you from getting a white smile.

Are you considering professional teeth whitening in the Denver area? Get more information at

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