Who should not use OTC tooth whiteners?

People with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications should not use OTC tooth whiteners. Pregnant women should not use tooth whiteners as it is not known how this product may affect an unborn baby. You should not receive tooth whitening if you have untreated periodontal problems, infections, cracked or sensitive teeth, or tooth decay. Before, during, and after using OTC tooth whiteners, you should not overuse tobacco, use certain antibiotics, eat certain foods such as blueberries, or drink coffee, tea, or red wine, as all of these items can cause staining. Before using any kind of tooth whitening treatment, ask your dentist what you should know about using OTC tooth whiteners.
Teeth whitening is an oxidative process caused by the use of various concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. OTC Whitening gels use peroxides in lower concentrations, but it is expected that the product will be used for longer and more frequent periods of time. This can generate higher levels of cell damaging free radicals (i.e., peroxide radicals). Pregnant women, and women who are nursing, should avoid the use of OTC whiteners, as well as immune-compromised and cancer patients. Patients with active periodontal disease or untreated dental caries should avoid the use of OTC whiteners as well.
If you have very sensitive teeth, you should avoid OTC tooth whiteners. The bleaching agents can cause pain and may make your teeth even more sensitive. You should also avoid OTC tooth whiteners if you have gum disease, crooked or damaged teeth. OTC whiteners won't bleach crowns or veneers, so it you have them and you whiten your teeth, you could end up with "Technicolor teeth:" natural teeth that are white and restored teeth that aren't. Avoid OTC tooth whiteners if you're pregnant or nursing, since any whitening bleach you swallow could be harmful to your unborn or nursing baby.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.