Who should avoid teeth whitening?

There are a number of people who should avoid whitening/bleaching. Children should avoid it; people with sensitive teeth prior to starting whitening, will typically become more sensitive afterward as well. Although most people will only have minor symptoms, consult your Dentist prior to whitening/bleaching. 

Those who should consider avoiding or severely limiting a whitening procedure are people who have sensitive teeth since the bleach used to whiten teeth can cause sensitivity, especially if used aggressively. Since crowns and white fillings will not bleach it is important to know that once the bleaching process is completed newly whitened teeth may be much lighter and will no longer match the restorations. The same is true for crowns which will then appear darker than surrounding bleached teeth.

Patients who have sensitive teeth will have trouble with tooth whitening as it can increase sensitivity. Also, if you have any crowns or fillings on the front teeth, they will not change color with whitening. Whitening the surrounding teeth may make the crowns and fillings stand out. Also, anyone with cavities should resolve these issues before whitening teeth.

Before attempting to whiten one's teeth, they should have an examination by their dentist. If there are holes in the teeth (cavities) the bleaching solution can cause extreme pain and potentially cause the nerve to die.

If someone has crowns on their teeth, whitening will not change the color of the crown. Therefore, if there is one crown on a front tooth, unless one is planning to replace it after whitening the rest of the teeth, don't do it!

People who have had extensive periodontal problems with significant root exposure will find that bleaching their teeth can be extremely painful.

People with hypersensitive teeth and untreated decay/cavities should avoid teeth whitening. The bleaching process sometimes will increase pre-existing sensitivity. Dental disease (such as decay) needs to be treated/filled/restored, before bleaching. Also, since existing tooth-colored fillings, crowns, and veneers won't respond to the bleaching process, you will want to take that into consideration, and work with your dentist to reach the most desirable results.

Some individuals with certain dental conditions may not be good candidates for bleaching. People with gum recession and exposed, highly sensitive root surfaces may find the whitening ingredients further irritate their teeth.

If you have fillings, crowns, and extremely dark stains, talk to your dentist about whitening your teeth. A complete oral evaluation by a dentist will help determine if bleaching is an appropriate course of treatment for you. Your dentist then can also monitor the treatment plan.

You should avoid tooth whitening if you have cavities in your teeth. The whitening agents can make your cavities worse and make your tooth hurt. If your teeth are sensitive, whitening can make them more sensitive. You should see your dentist for a thorough exam before beginning whitening. Your dentist can alert you to any potential problems. You may also want to avoid whitening if your anterior teeth have fillings and crowns as these will not whiten.

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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.