When should I avoid whitening my teeth?

Jonathan B. Levine, DMD
You should avoid teeth whitening:
  • When you're pregnant: Research has shown that whitening teeth could possibly harm a fetus.
  • When you're breastfeeding: There's been no conclusive evidence that's proven whitening to be dangerous when nursing, but there's been no conclusive evidence saying that it's perfectly safe either. Until we can say for certain that it is harmless for mothers to undergo whitening while nursing, taking such a chance is not advisable.
  • When you're young: Up until the age of 14 or 15, kids have larger pulps, so whitening is likely to cause sensitivity. Even for patients a few years older who want to whiten, I recommend abbreviated whitening sessions-say, two passes of the procedure instead of the standard four.
Smile!: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Smile Beauty

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Smile!: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Smile Beauty

Renowned dentist and creator of the GoSMILE product line Dr. Levine offers this complete guide to getting a whiter, brighter smile. 15 photos & illustrations.
You should avoid whitening your teeth if any of the following apply to you:
  • You have large pulps (the tender tissue inside teeth)
  • You are highly sensitive to bleaching chemicals
  • You have lost a lot of enamel on your teeth (the hard outer coating of your teeth)
  • You have rough fillings
  • You are pregnant or nursing a baby
  • You are allergic to peroxide or latex
Make sure you talk with your dentist first about tooth whitening treatments, including any concerns you might have as to whether tooth whitening is right for you.
There are several situations where whitening should be avoided. First, you should not whiten without first having a dental exam and xrays. If you have cavities or abcessed teeth, these conditions should be fixed prior to whitening. Whitening could make cavities and abcesses worse. Second, fillings, crowns, and veneers do not whiten. With whitening, only the enamel whitens, and existing fillings, crowns, and veneers will stand out after whitening and may need to be replaced. Third, if you have very sensitive teeth, whitening may not be for you as whitening can make the teeth sensitive. See your dentist if you are interested in tooth whitening.

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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.