With the start of a new year, your resolutions may include improving your oral health and the appearance of your smile. Quick fixes like teeth whitening strips can seem like an appealing option for brightening your smile without having to visit the dentist, but are they really consequence-free? At-home whitening strips may provide an immediate solution to whitening your teeth, but the reality is that they can potentially cause damage to your teeth over time.
Wearing Down Enamel
The main active ingredient in dental whitening strips is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is also commonly used as a color-lightening agent to bleach hair, which can cause serious damage to your scalp and hair. When it comes to whitening your teeth, whitening strips containing hydrogen peroxide also pose potential threats to tooth enamel — the outer layer of your teeth. Behind the enamel is the dentin layer, followed by the inner layer containing connective tissue. The danger of hydrogen peroxide on teeth is that it can easily wear down your enamel and quickly move on to attacking the dentin.
How Whitening Strips Can Soften Teeth
So, what is the problem with hydrogen peroxide in whitening strips reaching the dentin layer of your teeth? Once dentin is affected by the peroxide, you can expect a breakdown of the layer’s primary protein, collagen. This breakdown causes a fragmentation of the collagen and a loss of overall collagen mass. Research still needs to be conducted to determine if the body can regenerate or reverse the effects of lost collagen proteins once they have been exposed to hydrogen peroxide. The loss of collagen and softening of your teeth in the essential dentin can potentially cause your teeth to soften or become less hard, thus possibly leading to many other dental conditions.
Not Safe for Kids
When it comes to teeth whitening for kids and teens, it’s important to be cautious of whitening treatments, especially whitening strips. While low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide in whitening strips are generally safe for adults when used occasionally, it is uncertain if the same holds true for children, as very little research has been conducted.
Other areas of concern include the increased likelihood of your child improperly following directions when using the strips — possibly resulting in your child keeping the strips on for too long (and therefore increasing risk of tooth damage) or accidentally swallowing the bleaching product. Many adults experience tooth sensitivity after teeth whitening, so keep in mind that your child could experience the same discomfort.
Because of the previously mentioned lack of research on the effects of whitening strips for children, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) claims that whitening strips are unsafe for children and teens under the age of 15. The best way to naturally improve the color of your child’s teeth are to help them avoid food and beverages that cause staining, along with ensuring your child brushes twice a day. If you have further concerns about the color of your child’s teeth, talk with his or her dentist about treatment options.
Professional Teeth Whitening
If you want to brighten your smile safely, talk to your dentist about in-office teeth whitening treatments. NK Family Dental provides safe, effective teeth whitening services for our Chicago patients, offering both the Zoom and Opalescence brands of teeth whitening treatments. Contact us today to schedule your teeth whitening treatment and other dental services.