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? ›

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.

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.

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.

Does teeth whitening at the dentist damage teeth? ›

We all want a white brighter smile. But this begs the question “does teeth whitening damage the enamel?” The answer is no. While there may sometimes be side effects, whitening treatment is safe on tooth enamel. The process of tooth whitening is essentially the tooth will become dehydrated, meaning dried out.

What teeth whitening product do dentists recommend? ›

The Best Teeth Whitening Kits, According to Dentists
  • OpalescenceGo Prefilled Teeth Whitening Trays, Set of 10. ...
  • Burst Prefilled Whitening Trays, Set of 3. ...
  • PhilipsZoom NiteWhite Kit, Set of 3. ...
  • Dr. ...
  • Colgate Optic White ComfortFit Teeth Whitening Kit. ...
  • Auraglow Teeth Whitening Kit. ...
  • Crest3D Whitestrips, Pack of 22.
Sep 20, 2023

What teeth whitening doesn't damage enamel? ›

Many products, like gel trays and whitening strips, use ingredients such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide to lighten your teeth. These are safe for your gums and enamel in small amounts — as long as they're high-quality chemicals and used as directed.

Why is teeth whitening not recommended? ›

One of the most common side effects is tooth sensitivity, which can occur during or after treatment. Overuse or misuse of teeth whitening products can also lead to enamel damage, gum irritation, and discoloration. Additionally, some types of tooth discoloration may not respond well to teeth whitening treatments.

What is the number 1 recommended teeth whitening? ›

The Crest Whitening Emulsion with LED Light stands out as the best overall teeth whitening product due to its ease of use, effectiveness, and comfort.

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 number one teeth whitening method? ›

Option #1: In-Office Laser Whitening

This is one of the popular teeth whitening methods that some people believe is the most effective way to get a brighter smile. Using lasers and peroxide-based whitening agents in a professional setting, this teeth whitening method provides dramatic, lasting results.

Can yellow teeth become white again? ›

What Can Be Done to Whiten Yellow Teeth? If you're looking for a radical change in the coloring of your teeth, you need professional-grade whitening to get the job done. Your cosmetic dentist can provide treatment that penetrates deep into the enamel and removes years of stains with a powerful bleaching agent.

Are there any safe teeth whitening products? ›

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.

What are the long term effects of teeth whitening? ›

Potential Long-Term Risks

Permanent gum or tooth sensitivity. Damage to your dental roots. Enamel erosion. Uneven results.

Does swishing hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth? ›

When used carefully, it can be an effective way to whiten your teeth. But if used incorrectly — in concentrations that are too high or if used too often — it can cause serious and sometimes expensive tooth damage. If you choose to whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide, do so cautiously.

What is the best teeth whitening 2024? ›

Our top pick for the best whitening kit is the Crest 3DWhitestrips Sensitive + LED Light At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit because it combines whitening strips and an LED light for a straight-forward and beginner-friendly application process.

Can baking soda whiten teeth? ›

Baking soda can be used with some water to remove the stains on the surface of the teeth. It can also be used with hydrogen peroxide to enhance its whitening effects. Baking soda can be used by individuals with regular toothpastes too. It is also used commercially in some teeth whitening products and toothpastes.

How can I whiten my teeth without damaging enamel at home? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that can help to whiten stained teeth . For optimal whitening, a person can try brushing with a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for 1–2 minutes twice a day for a week. They should only do this occasionally.

What is the safest way to whiten teeth without sensitivity? ›

In-office bleaching procedures:

Professional whitening treatments are the safest way to remove long-term stains if you have sensitive teeth. They are also the most effective. They don't harm the natural enamel of your teeth, so they're less likely to add to your sensitivity.

Can I brush my teeth with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda? ›

You simply make a paste out of a teaspoon of baking soda and a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, and then gently brush your teeth as you would with traditional toothpaste. When you are done, rinse your mouth with water.

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