Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is teeth whitening bad for your mouth?"
I smoked and drank coffee for years but now I have quit both. I would like to whiten or bleach my teeth. Is this safe to do? Could you damage the inside of your mouth or your lips by getting this done to your teeth?
Teeth whitening is very popular, and it is generally safe for most people. The most confusing thing is sorting through the many products that are available to you for whitening the teeth. At the more simple end of the spectrum are a variety of whitening toothpastes. These can be quite effective for maintaining tooth whiteness or for dealing with minor stains. However, for more persistent or deep discolorations, they are not usually very effective. The next level of strength would be the over the counter tooth whitening strips or gels, of which there are several brands. These are stronger than the toothpastes and more effective. The bleaching chemicals in the products can be irritating to the gums and to the mouth, but this is usually minimized as long as you apply the product carefully. Finally, there are the much stronger products which can only be applied by your dentist in their office. For the most part, these products are limited to use by dentists because they have a much higher risk of irritating the mouth or the gums, and so they must be applied under supervision. Start by talking to your dentist, as he or she is an expert in this area!
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