Are teeth whitening products safe and effective?

Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
Take home whitening kits from your dentist or over-the-counter whitening strips are great options for bleaching your teeth. In this video, Dante Gonzales, DMD, discusses the benefits of these methods.
Most whitening toothpastes are safe but not all are effective at bleaching your pearly whites. As long as your toothpaste ingredients include fluoride and compounds that remove tartar and plaque, you're getting what you paid for: clean, healthy teeth. But some toothpastes claim to whiten teeth, yet are ineffective because they don't have the proper ingredients to do the job. If you use an over-the-counter teeth whitener, read the ingredients and the instructions. Some teeth whiteners are strong and may burn your mouth and gums.
Whitening is any process that will make teeth appear whiter. The ADA advises patients to first consult with their dentist to determine the most appropriate treatment for whitening. A thorough oral examination by a dentist is essential to determine if bleaching is an appropriate course of treatment. This is especially important for patients with many fillings, crowns, and extremely dark stains on their teeth. 

Several whitening toothpastes that are available over-the-counter (OTC) have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which means they have been thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness. For more information about the ADA Seal and the safety and effectiveness of tooth whitening products, visit

Before using whitening products, see your dentist. Your dentist can advise you about whitening treatments and products available. Some products can cause burning of the gums and sensitive teeth. It is also important to follow your dentist’s instructions about using these products. Overuse can damage the teeth.

Jonathan B. Levine, DMD
Safe and effective teeth whitening is determined by how much time the whitening gel is in contact with the teeth in concert with  the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the gel. A higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide requires a shorter contact time, but must be administered under the supervision of a dental professional. Lower concentrations of hydrogen peroxide gel are safe to use at home but require longer contact time to yield results. Always use a delivery system that targets the gel to the teeth (not the gums), reducing the risk of pain and sensitivity, a common side effect of hydrogen peroxide coming in contact with the soft tissue.

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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.