MAR 31, 2017 11:45 AM PDT

Is it Safe to Bleach Your Teeth?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

With the explosion of teeth whitening products on the market, from do-it-yourself kits to services offered straight from the dentist, it seems that a dazzling white smile is within everybody's reach. But how does teeth whitening work and do the pearly whites come with unknown risks?

Because tooth enamel is porous, stains from our foods and drinks can seep in over time. While brushing and regular cleanings at the dentist office help to minimize the process, discoloration of the teeth as we age is naturally unavoidable.

Teeth whitening procedures are designed remove the stains at the deep level and restore a white brilliance. Most whiteners rely on a common chemical known as hydrogen peroxide. On the teeth at clinical-grade concentrations, this chemical breaks down the stain-causing compounds, essentially bleaching the enamel.

The process of whitening your teeth has become so common that nearly every major tooth-care brand has their own version of a DIY whitening kit. But before you commit, watch the video to understand the side effects like teeth sensitivity, and why whitening doesn't work on everyone.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 05, 2018
Videos
NOV 05, 2018
The Mechanisms Underlying the Deadly Blow of the Mantis Shrimp
The mantis shrimp packs a powerful punch that can strike its enemies with one of the fastest moves in the animal kingdom....
NOV 06, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 06, 2018
The Rise of Thorium Nuclear Reactors
In the 1960s, an experimental reactor was built at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The scientists who worked on this project had one ingenious idea: to...
NOV 11, 2018
Videos
NOV 11, 2018
Is Our Everyday Electronic Devices Making Us Sick?
1-5% of people believe their electronic devices are making them experiences symptoms associated with such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches. These indivi...
NOV 25, 2018
Videos
NOV 25, 2018
What If Earth Spun the Other Way?
If once upon a time the Earth spun the other way—the seasons wouldn’t change because of the Earths tilt. But, what would change is the climate ...
DEC 01, 2018
Videos
DEC 01, 2018
Identifying Disease-causing Gene Mutations
Genetic diseases can be traced back to an error in a gene. This video explores how the process works....
DEC 06, 2018
Videos
DEC 06, 2018
Stopping the Spread of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
This informative video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the problem of antibiotic resistance....
Loading Comments...