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A whiter smile has always been associated with better dental health and has even been a factor in whether or not someone will pass their next job interview based on some recent studies. Due to that, many people have turned to teeth brightening treatments — but how safe are they?

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the options you can choose from, any side effects that may develop, and what substances stain your teeth in the first place. Let’s start with what the American Dental Association has to say about the safety of teeth brightening.

ADA Stance

In general, the American Dental Association considers teeth brightening to be safe. However, there are some caveats that you should be wary of. For instance, pregnant women are advised to avoid teeth brightening treatments in an effort to avoid any complications during their term.  Even after giving birth, pregnant women still shouldn’t go for teeth brightening since the ADA also marks it as a potential risk for nursing mothers as some of the chemicals may make their way into the breastmilk that the baby consumes — which could lead to unforeseen side effects.

Side Effects

There aren’t many side effects to worry about when going through the teeth brightening process. The most common one that you may experience is tooth sensitivity to hot or cold beverages. This can also apply to other food items such as ice cream.

Fortunately, it’s rather easy to deal with this side effect since any toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can likely get rid of the issue entirely or at least help you manage it. Over-the-counter pain relievers are another route to relieve the newfound sensitivity.

It’s worth noting that you might want to proceed with caution if you already have sensitive teeth prior to the brightening process. In such a case, it would be best to speak with your dentist so that you can find a solution that won’t impact the existing sensitivity or potentially worsen it.

Treatment Options

There are two types of teeth brightening treatments that you can choose from: clinical and at-home. Both share many similarities, but the key difference is the speed at which it will whiten your teeth Let’s take a closer look at each one:


If you take the clinical route then you’ll be able to utilize more bleach during the brightening process. This is because dentists have already received training that allows them to safely handle higher volumes of bleach.

The peroxide concentration can also be higher than what you might find in at-home options due to the safety training that dentists undergo. Lastly, having a dentist handle the process will give you peace of mind since an expert is the one taking care of the actual administering.


Whether for convenience or financial reasons, many people prefer to use at-home brightening treatments. While you won’t get as much bleach for your buck with this route, there are still some benefits to it.

Obviously, you won’t have to pay as much and you’ll also save the time it would take to visit your dentist. It’s important that you pay attention to the instructions of the product you buy since different manufacturers will have varying application processes.

How often you should apply the product and how long to leave it on can change drastically from one brand to the next. Lastly, it’s worth noting that over the counter DIY solutions will work — to some extent — but the results won’t get anywhere close to what you’d get from a professional.

What Stains Teeth

Of course, why spend money on teeth brightening if you can avoid stains altogether. While myriad substances can stain your teeth, there are a select few that are especially clingy. Here are some enamel-loving substances along with other things that may leave a mark.


While caffeine may feel “necessary” for some to get that drive they need to get through the rest of the day, coffee is one of the most notorious culprits when it comes to staining teeth. With that said, you should remember that any dark beverage can stain your teeth, even decaf.


The first thing that comes to mind when you think of tobacco stains is smoking. While smoking is, in fact, a leading cause, it’s important to note that smokeless tobacco can also stain your teeth. Really, any tobacco product containing tar (which is a large portion of the industry) can.

Injuries & Poor Hygiene

Beyond food, drinks, and smoking, there are other things that can stain your teeth. Lack of brushing is a common cause, as are injuries. Tooth trauma can leave stains that will make your teeth look darker as a whole, so pop that mouthguard in the next time you spar at the gym.

The T-Shirt Rule of Thumb

As the name implies, the general rule of thumb is anything that would stain your white T-shirt will also stain your teeth. Common sense can go a long way in keeping your teeth stainless, so don’t expect an exhaustive list as a substitute for logic.

Mid-Treatment and Post-Treatment Diet

It’s worth noting that the color of your teeth takes a few weeks to set after you’ve completed the bleaching process. You’ll want to avoid coffee, tea, and red wine for the first 24 hours after the initial treatment. Fruits and their respective juices may also stain the teeth — except bananas.

Soy sauce, tomato sauce, and red meats should also be avoided. Lastly, steer clear of blueberries, raspberries, and other berries in general since they’re known to leave stains on pearly whites.

Skinless chicken, crustless bread, and white rice are prime choices since they’ll help you stay nourished while the color sets. Skimmed milk or water should serve as your main means of hydration during this period since drinking soda would be a horrible idea.

If you don’t think you can stick to a diet for very long then consider going for in-office brightening since the bleaching time is shorter, thus minimizing the period that you’ll need to worry about the various restrictions.


Getting your teeth brightening done with Dr. Jack and the rest of his world-class team is the best way to ensure that you don’t suffer from over-bleaching. There are various risks of over-bleaching such as gum irritation, chemical burns, and extreme sensitivity.

Teeth that have been over-bleached can also be more vulnerable to decay since excessive chemical use may wear down the enamel. Luckily, Lincoln Park Smiles is well-versed in the nuances of teeth brightening and knows just when to remove the bleach.

It’s our professional opinion patients should go for the best of both worlds by combining take-home trays with our in-office light-activated brightening (which only takes two hours.) We’ll even bundle the two together at an affordable $650.



As you can see, there are quite a few options to choose from. Whether you go for the clinical approach or buy a home-application product, just ensure that you take note of the safety guidelines. Compromising your pregnancy or a newborn’s health isn’t worth it over a smile.

In most cases, however, teeth brightening is completely safe and you shouldn’t let fear hold you back from achieving a whiter smile. If the information in this article was useful to you then be sure to share it with a friend or two, someone who has always wanted whiter teeth.

If you have any questions about teeth brightening or even general aspects of oral health then don’t hesitate to give our downtown Chicago dentists a call at (312) 236-9325! Remember, healthy teeth make for a happier smile!


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