There have been many advances in teeth whitening approaches over the last decade. All of them still require the user (yourself or your dentist) to use the products safely. For example, if you use an over-the-counter product for longer than directed because you’re not happy with the speed or degree of whiteness, you’re asking for trouble. Tooth sensitivity or gum irritation can result. That can even happen if you use the products according to directions. Some people are just more sensitive than others, or the products may not work well with the shape of your mouth or teeth because they’re designed for the “average” person.
By the same token, dentists also need to be especially careful with their specialized and more powerful teeth-whitening treatments. One of the best examples is the use of ultraviolet (UV) light in teeth whitening. UV light is sometimes used to activate, accelerate, or enhance bleaching solutions. And it can be used safely. That means directing the UV light only onto the tooth surface – and not onto surrounding gum tissue. Would you even consider going to the beach and holding your lip down to expose your gums to the sun for a couple of hours (aside from the fact that it might look dumb)? I thought not! You’re already aware of the short-term and long-term damage that UV light exacts on your skin – especially when you’re not protected by sunscreen. That’s why it’s very important for your dentist to protect your gums and other mouth tissue from UV light exposure when using it as a component of your teeth-whitening program.