Is Teeth Whitening Safe? 4 Dentist-Approved Ways to Avoid Damage - GoodRx (2024)

Key takeaways:

  • Teeth-whitening products work by breaking down complex stains to make teeth appear brighter and whiter.

  • Overuse or misuse of teeth-whitening products can cause sensitivity, gum irritation, and other side effects.

  • Custom-fitted trays and in-office treatments are the safest and most effective ways to whiten teeth. ADA-approved over-the-counter toothpastes, gels, and strips are more affordable and convenient options.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe? 4 Dentist-Approved Ways to Avoid Damage - GoodRx (1)

The market for teeth-whitening products has exploded in recent years. And it’s tough to figure out which products are safe and effective.

You may be looking to remove years of surface stains from red wine and coffee. Or maybe you just want to brighten up your smile. In either case, you'll first need to know if teeth whitening is safe for you and which option is most appropriate.

How do teeth-whitening products work?

Your teeth have molecules on them that reflect light. This is what gives off the color of your teeth when you smile. The more complex these molecules are, the more light they reflect. And this increase in light reflection can cause your teeth to appear stained or discolored.

Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the two most common active ingredients in teeth-whitening products. They both work by breaking down the complex staining molecules, so you can have a brighter and whiter smile.

Is teeth whitening safe?

Teeth whitening is safe if done by a dental professional or if you use products that are approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Having the ADA Seal of Acceptance on an over-the-counter whitening product ensures that it’s safe and effective.

However, like any cosmetic procedure, teeth whitening has potential side effects. Overuse or misuse of whitening products can lead to damage to your teeth and gums, sensitivity, and other problems.

What are the side effects of teeth whitening?

The most common side effect of teeth whitening is increased sensitivity of the teeth and gums. This is due to the active ingredients irritating the nerves and blood vessels inside of your teeth. In some cases, this sensitivity can last for several days. Fortunately, there are many ways you can manage sensitivity if it does occur.

Other potential side effects of teeth whitening include:

It’s important to stop the treatment and speak with your dentist if you experience any discomfort or side effects from whitening. They can help guide you on the next steps you should take.

What are the 4 safest ways to whiten your teeth?

There are many ways to whiten your teeth. You may decide to try an at-home treatment or allow a dental professional to decide the best treatment for you. Either way, it’s important to remember that there are pros and cons to each treatment. Here are four options for you to consider.

1. Over-the-counter whitening toothpastes and gels

Whitening toothpastes and gels are a simple way to make your smile brighter. Most whitening toothpastes have abrasives in them (like baking soda and silica) to remove surface stains. However, whitening toothpaste alone won’t make your teeth many shades whiter. And the abrasiveness of the ingredients could also cause tooth sensitivity.

Whitening gels have hydrogen peroxide, which helps to break down stains. The challenge with gels is keeping them in place. Your lip can sometimes wipe the gel away after it’s been applied.

2. Whitening strips

Whitening strips are a convenient and affordable option for at-home whitening. Most strips are coated with a whitening gel containing peroxide. The physical strip helps keep the gel on the teeth for the correct amount of time.

But the strips may not fit your teeth well and may irritate your gums. Using the strips too much can also make your teeth sensitive.

3. Custom-fitted whitening trays

Your dentist may recommend a custom-fit whitening tray made from a mold of your teeth. The trays are filled with whitening gel and worn for a recommended amount of time each day. You can repeat this until the desirable shade is accomplished. You’ll usually see noticeable results in a matter of weeks.

Your dentist will most likely use a higher-strength whitening agent with this method compared to an over-the-counter whitening product.

4. In-office blue whitening treatment

In-office whitening treatments use a blue LED light. They are supervised by a dentist. This is considered one of the safest and most effective ways to whiten your teeth.

During a whitening session, the dentist will apply a gel to your teeth containing a high concentration of peroxide. A blue LED light is used to activate the gel. The light will be directed onto your teeth for about 15 to 20 minutes. The dentist will then apply a new layer of gel and direct the light onto your teeth for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. This process is typically repeated three to four times until the desired level of whitening is achieved.

Who should not whiten their teeth?

There isn’t much safety data on teeth whitening for pregnant or breastfeeding women. And these groups are more likely to have inflamed gums and sensitivity after whitening due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Children under the age of 16 also shouldn’t use teeth whiteners without the guidance of a dentist. This is to ensure that the whitening is done safely and effectively.

Other people who shouldn’t use teeth-whitening products include those who have:

People with these dental issues may have increased sensitivity or adverse effects when using teeth-whitening products. Consult your dentist for further guidance on teeth whitening if you fall into one of these categories.

Should you consult a dentist before whitening your teeth?

Yes. It’s always a good idea to consult a dentist before beginning any teeth-whitening treatment. Your dentist can evaluate your dental health and determine if whitening is safe for you. They can also recommend the best whitening products or treatments for your needs. That way, you can avoid potential problems or side effects.

The bottom line

Teeth whitening can be an effective way to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. However, it’s possible to have side effects from whitening products, especially if they’re misused. Follow instructions carefully and consult with a dentist before beginning any treatment. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy a beautiful, healthy smile for years to come.


American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. (2019). Policy on the use of dental bleaching for child and adolescent patients.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2013). Oral health care during pregnancy and through the lifespan.

View All References (3)


American Dental Association. (n.d.). ADA Seal of Acceptance.

American Dental Association. (2022). Whitening.

Rodrigues de Freitas, M., et al. (2021). Effectiveness and adverse effects of over-the-counter whitening products on dental tissues. Frontiers in Dental Medicine.

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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Is Teeth Whitening Safe? 4 Dentist-Approved Ways to Avoid Damage - GoodRx (2024)


Is Teeth Whitening Safe? 4 Dentist-Approved Ways to Avoid Damage - GoodRx? ›

Is teeth whitening safe? Teeth whitening is safe if done by a dental professional or if you use products that are approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Having the ADA Seal of Acceptance on an over-the-counter whitening product ensures that it's safe and effective.

What is the safest professional teeth whitening method? ›

laser teeth whitening is the safest, quickest, and most effective option among the types of teeth-whitening treatments available. However, there are ultimately several ways to whiten teeth, and the most suitable option will depend on your timeline, budget, and priorities, as well as the nature of the discoloration.

What is the least damaging way to whiten your teeth? ›

At-Home Custom Tray Whitening

For the safest and most effective at-home teeth whitening method, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recommends you use custom-fitted trays supplied by your dentist.

Why do dentists not recommend teeth whitening? ›

Tooth and gum sensitivity and pain

Store-bought products may contain abrasive substances like hydrogen peroxide, which can be effective if used minimally, but in large doses can cause erosion of teeth's enamel and shrinkage of the gums.

What teeth whitening product do dentists recommend? ›

  • Crest 3D Whitestrips Classic Vivid.
  • Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips.
  • Opalescence Go Teeth Whitening Trays.
  • Nu Skin AP 24 Toothpaste.
  • Burt's Bees Whitening Toothpaste.
  • ACT Whitening + Anticavity Fluoride Mouthrinse.
  • Colgate Optic White ComfortFit LED Whitening Kit.
May 2, 2024

Is there a teeth whitening that doesn't harm teeth? ›

  • 5 Teeth Whitening Products Designed for Sensitive Teeth.
  • Crest 3D White Whitestrips Gentle Routine Teeth Whitening Kit. ...
  • Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste. ...
  • Oral Essentials Lumineux Whitening Kit. ...
  • TrueWhite Teeth Whitening Pen. ...
  • In-Office Professional Whitening Treatments. ...
  • 115 Broadstreet Rd Suite C,

How to whiten teeth over 60? ›

Bleaching Trays

Compared to commercial products, whitening trays from your dentist are stronger and much safer for seniors in particular. As you age, your gums and teeth can become more sensitive. Your dentist can first evaluate your oral health to determine if you are eligible to receive teeth whitening.

How can I whiten my teeth without damaging my teeth? ›

Methods for At-Home Teeth Whitening

Baking Soda: As long as you are careful to brush gently, baking soda can eliminate stains from the surface of your teeth without damaging them. Whitening Strips: Whitening strips mold to the shape of your teeth to whiten them. Whitening strips are both safe and effective.

Can teeth be whitened without damage? ›

Many at-home tooth whitening methods have the potential to cause harm but your dentist can give you trays and gel containing carbamide peroxide. The trays are custom-fitted to protect your gums and your dentist makes sure that your mouth is healthy enough before you get started.

Why is it not good to whiten your teeth? ›

However, teeth whitening treatments can cause damage to the enamel if not done correctly or overused. Enamel damage can lead to increased sensitivity, pain, and white spots on your teeth. It's essential to consult with a dentist before using any teeth whitening products to ensure they're safe for your teeth.

Who shouldn't get their teeth whitened? ›

People who are allergic to teeth bleaching whitening agents like peroxide. Individuals with sensitive teeth. Those who seek unrealistic or blinding-white results.

Who is not a good candidate for teeth whitening? ›

Those who are suffering from periodontal disease, oral cancer, or who have enamel that is excessively worn down to not make good candidates for teeth whitening either. Most other patients should not have a problem.

When not to get teeth whitening? ›

You may not be a candidate for teeth whitening. If you are allergic to peroxide, you will not be able to have your teeth whitened, since peroxide is the active ingredient in whitening systems. If you have a lot of fillings, dental bonding or crowns, you may not be a candidate for dental whitening.

Does swishing hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth? ›

A simple hydrogen peroxide mouthwash may help remove mild stains. However, a person should avoid leaving hydrogen peroxide solutions on their teeth for extended periods. For people who have darker stains, stronger whitening options are available both over the counter and from a dentist.

What is the number one recommended teeth whitening? ›

Best for Fast Results

We recommend the Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips if you want whiter teeth fast. Although they do not contain peroxide (opting for a mix of natural ingredients), we found these strips to be a quick and easy way to whiten our teeth in just a couple of days.

What toothpaste actually whitens teeth? ›

Crest 3D White Professional Enamel Protect Toothpaste is our favorite whitening pick from the trusted brand. It has a gentle feeling and a mild mint flavor that isn't overpowering. This toothpaste features hydrated silica to remove stains and sodium fluoride to prevent cavities and strengthen enamel.

Is professional teeth whitening safer? ›

Professional teeth whitening is generally safer than DIY methods or natural remedies, and precautions should be taken before and after treatment. If you have sensitive teeth, desensitizing gels or low-concentration products may be recommended.

Are there any safe teeth whitening? ›

In-office whitening is highly effective, safe, and long-lasting. But it's more expensive than over-the-counter options, and often isn't covered by dental insurance. Ask your dentist for a cost estimate before committing to teeth whitening.

What teeth whitening do the Kardashians use? ›

Kim Kardashian turns her teeth temporarily purple as she promotes the V34 Colour Corrector Serum from the brand HiSmile.

What is the new technology for teeth whitening? ›

Laser technology is one of the most exciting advancements in the process. The bleaching process is accelerated by a non-invasive treatment called laser tooth whitening. Your teeth are covered with whitening gel, which is then activated by a laser to whiten your teeth.


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