Is whitening your teeth bad for you? This is usually one of the first questions you ask when thinking of brightening your teeth. We explain the two types of teeth whitening, the possible side effects, and if it is indeed a bad idea or not.

Anyone who is thinking of brightening their smile with a whitening product is going to be wondering that very thing.

Well – we are here to answer your question!

We will walk you through the 2 different types of dental whitening methods, what they do and what results you can expect.

We will also talk about the possible side effects that some people may experience.

Not everyone will experience any reaction, but it is always wise to know in advance what may happen and how to deal with any unwanted malady that may occur.

Reasons To Whiten Your Teeth

We are living in a world where everyone is very conscious of how we look and very aware of what impression we project to people around us.

By dressing well and being well-groomed we convey who we are.

But the most important impression is where people automatically look when talking and chatting – at our faces. Communication is all about looking at a person and conversing.

This is where the teeth are on show.

Smiling, laughing, and chatting confidently is what shows your personality and engages people to share and relate well with you.

This is important both at work and in our personal lives.

You do not want to be embarrassed or aware of the discoloration of your teeth. It will make most people feel self-conscious – not what you want to be feeling.

This is where whitening of the teeth can be your savior and bring back your confidence.

Does Whitening Teeth Damage Them In Any Way?

Is teeth whitening safe?

You can be assured that whitening your teeth at home is a very safe procedure.

Studies taken of whitening products using 10% carbamide peroxide showed positive results. There was little to no effect on the hardness or the mineral content of the enamel.

This is also true of existing fillings and restorations that have been done. There is no damage to fillings, bonding, crowns, veneers, and bridges.

The issue is that these do not lighten. So any previous work that was done that matched your tooth shade will remain the same color.

There are many different methods you can choose.

These will all achieve a lightening and brightening of your teeth.

Most at-home whitening products are specially formulated for home users.

They contain a safe level of whitening agents. This is to ensure that users like us do not do damage while using the products.

As with any product you use – be sure to follow the manufacturers’ directions and you should have no issues.

Just a little note at this point.

[The magazines and adverts we see everywhere promote beautiful white sparkling teeth on beautiful people. Bear in mind that a lot of that is not real and has been edited after the photo shoot for public consumption. This is an image that people hope to replicate and is often not realistic.]

You need to be aware of what you can realistically achieve.

This all depends on the natural shade of your teeth and how discolored they have become due to bad habits

How Teeth Whitening Works

There are 2 types of dental teeth whiteners:

  1. Intrinsic whitening
  2. Extrinsic Whitening

Intrinsic whitening changes the color of the inside of the tooth.

Extrinsic whitening removes stains from the outside of the tooth.

Intrinsic Whitening

Intrinsic means internal – which is what bleaching is all about.

Did you know that bleach actually lightens the inner tissue of the tooth, not the hard, outer enamel?

Can you make yellow teeth white again and why are my teeth so yellow even when I look after them?

Yellowing is a normal part of aging. Just like grey hair, the yellow color is a sign of aging. 

And it is our dentin, the inner part of the tooth that yellows, not the enamel.

With time the enamel gets thinner due to use and exposure to acidic foods and drinks and the dentin gets darker. The darkening dentin color reflects through the enamel making the tooth look yellow.

Whitening teeth affected by this is achievable.

How does it work?

The tooth must soak up a whitening gel or bleach which contains hydrogen peroxide. This gets absorbed into the tooth and whitens the dentin or inner part of the tooth.

With the inner part of the tooth whitened, the color is reflected through the outer enamel. This makes the tooth look whiter and brighter than before.

Extrinsic Whitening

Extrinsic means external, and this is exactly what this method of whitening does.

It removes the staining on the outer part of the tooth, which is your enamel.

Staining on your enamel is caused by residue leftover from smoking and drinking tea, coffee, or wine. Foods like curries and vegetables, like beetroot, will also leave behind stains when eaten on a regular basis.

These stains are usually removed quite easily.

Get a gentle lightening system like a whitening powder or a whitening toothpaste. These are the safest whitener methods on the market.

Or make use of a good stain-removing electric toothbrush. Combine the electric toothbrush with whitening toothpaste once or twice a week.

This will help maintain the brightness and eliminate any new developing discoloration.

What Results Can I Realistically Achieve?

The natural color of one’s teeth varies quite a bit between individuals.

Most people tend to naturally have a yellower hue. This does not mean they are unhealthy – it is just the natural color of the enamel. 

It does not mean they are any weaker or stronger than white teeth.

Yellow teeth do respond well to whitening.

Whereas brown teeth are a little less responsive.

Teeth with a grey or purple hue are not natural and have been caused by tetracycline and are not so easy to lighten. This may need a long period of home whitening – up to 6 months.

Alternatively, you may require the services of a professional dentist for successful lightening.

With any type of bleaching procedure, the degree of whiteness achieved will vary from individual to individual.

The results will depend on:

  • the condition of the teeth
  • the cause of the stain
  • the concentration of bleach in the product what bleaching system you have chosen
  • the time frame of bleaching

Teeth Bleaching Side Effects

So… is teeth bleaching bad?

There will be no damage to your teeth if used correctly – but a few people may experience a little discomfort.

And are there any side effects associated with whitening teeth?

Even though there will be no teeth whitening damage to the enamel, you may experience some side effects associated with whitening products.

Most people experience no reaction at all during or after the process. But there is a possibility of some uncomfortable side effects.

These are also something to consider before deciding to go ahead. There are a couple of irritating effects you may experience after whitening by bleaching.

All whitening solutions contain chemicals. These may cause irritation for some people or cause sensitivity to the tooth – but only in the short term.

Here are two potential side effects you may experience:

  1. Sensitivity
  2. Irritated Gums

Teeth Sensitivity

You may experience some tooth sensitivity during the whitening procedure and/or afterward.

The sensitivity will only last for a short period of time.

This is caused by exposure to the dentin layer during the bleaching process.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity beforehand – consult with your dentist for advice.

You can decide together on what whitening options are best for you.

Irritated Gums

When the soft tissue of your gums comes into contact with the whitening solution they may change from pink to white on contact.

The discoloration will return to normal soon after you remove the whitening chemicals.

In extreme cases, inflammation and reddening of the gums will persist. This may develop into gum tissue pain and possible bleeding.

This is very extreme. It is usually caused by excessive use of the whitening agent for an extended period of time.

To avoid this, always read and follow the directions on the packaging.

Can Anything Go Wrong?

Unfortunately – yes.

With excessive usage on a regular basis of any bleaching product, you will have issues. It is recommended you find out how many times you can whiten your teeth safely with no damage.

If you whiten your teeth too often, you may experience permanent damage.

One effect may be the translucence of the teeth where the edges appear to be transparent. Alternatively, a grey tinge may appear instead of the desired creamy white shade.

Over-usage in the incorrect manner will do more harm than good in this instance.

Q. What if you do not appear to be achieving any change in the condition of your teeth after a whitening session?

It is advisable to speak to your dentist. Find out why they did not lighten and what the best course of action may be.

Differing types of discoloration can be more difficult to remove than others. You may require veneers or other methods to improve their appearance.

In Conclusion – Is Whitening Your Teeth Bad For Enamel?

No, teeth whitening is NOT bad for your teeth. It is safe and can be used safely if used correctly.

Teeth whitening safety is paramount to all the manufacturers who produce lightening and bleaching products in today’s market.

You can choose to use:

  • professional in-office whitening at your dentist
  • a professional take-home whitening kit
  • or an over-the-counter tooth whitening option

There also many different methods in which you can choose to whiten teeth.

Gels, powders, strips, and trays to name a few.

Choosing which suits you best is a personal choice depending on the following:

  • how much you want to lighten your teeth
  • how badly stained and discolored your teeth are
  • what method you feel comfortable using

Many people will aim for the brightest smile possible. But remember, whiter teeth don’t mean healthier teeth.

On the other hand, if you are not happy with the color, there is nothing wrong with trying a safe whitening method.

We hope you are successful in your journey towards a beautiful, bright smile.


Is whitening bad for your teeth?
No teeth whitening is not bad for your teeth – as long as you are realistic about the results you hope to achieve.

If you persist with strong whitening or bleaching products above and beyond the recommended manufacturers’ recommendations, then you may create a situation where you can damage your teeth or have side effects affecting your gums.

Does tooth whitening damage enamel?
What is the safest way to whiten your teeth?
Is laser whitening bad for your teeth?

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