Safest way to whiten teeth without damaging enamel

The Safest Way to Whiten Teeth Without Damaging Enamel

A brighter smile can improve a person’s appearance, boost their self-esteem and confidence, and make them look younger. While many people strive for this, it’s important to know that not all whitening treatments are equally beneficial in the long term. 

You should not whiten your teeth at the expense of your oral health.

What is the safest teeth whitening method?

Professional treatments are not just the most effective whitening methods, but also the safest in terms of preventing permanent damage to the enamel of your teeth. 

In this article, we will discuss what your tooth enamel is, which whitening treatments damage it, and which professional treatment we recommend. 

What is tooth enamel? 

Tooth enamel is the tough, outer layer covering your teeth. It’s the hardest substance in your body— it’s even stronger than bone. 

It’s incredibly durable, but it’s not invincible. Enamel can be eroded by acid from things like sugary foods and drinks. If you don’t maintain good oral hygiene, it can weaken, leading to cavities or tooth sensitivity.

Preserving your tooth enamel is crucial for the following reasons:

  • It protects our teeth. Enamel acts as a protective barrier for our teeth, shielding them from the wear and tear of chewing and biting. Its dense and mineralized structure makes it resilient and when properly cared for it protects us from bacteria, tooth decay, and cavities. 
  • It’s insulating. It acts as an insulating agent so we can enjoy cold and hot substances without experiencing sensitivity or pain.  
  • It’s porous and thin. Enamel is relatively thin compared to other dental tissues like dentin and pulp. As a result, once it becomes damaged or eroded, the underlying dentin is exposed, which can lead to increased sensitivity, cavities, yellow teeth, and other dental issues.
  • It’s irreplaceable. There are no active cells in your mouth that can produce new enamel. And since the blood vessels do not reach the enamel, it cannot receive the necessary resources for self-repair. In other words, once enamel is lost, it cannot naturally grow back. 

Whitening your teeth can be risky because some products can deteriorate the tooth enamel. 

Structure of a tooth

Popular whitening products you should avoid

Just because an ingredient is natural or a popular method is being promoted by an influencer on social media, it doesn’t mean that it’s effective or beneficial for your dental health. 

If you want to enhance your beautiful smile, reduce tooth discoloration, and preserve your tooth enamel, you should avoid: 

  • Whitening strips: Although whitening strips can remove some intrinsic stains (surface stains), they’re not powerful enough to provide significant lasting changes, much less to remove extrinsic stains. Overuse and misuse of over-the-counter strips can lead to gum irritation, enamel damage, and uneven whitening. In this article, you can learn more about over-the-counter whitening strips.
  • Acidic ingredients: For your tooth enamel to remain healthy, it’s crucial to keep the pH level of your mouth within the range of 5.6 to 7.9. When the pH drops below 5.5, your teeth start losing minerals and the chance of cavities increases. Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, two popular natural ingredients used for tooth whitening, have a pH between 2 and 3.5, making them way too acidic for your teeth.
  • Activated charcoal: Using activated charcoal as a means of whitening teeth has become a trend but there are a few problems that shouldn’t be overlooked. For one, it does not have bleaching properties. However, being that it is abrasive, it may be able to remove some surface stains. The problem with this is that just like any abrasive ingredient, it causes tooth erosion, so while it might be a popular trend for now, it’s not a method that promotes long-term enamel health and should therefore be avoided. 
  • Ash: Some types of wood ash contain moderate levels of lye (otherwise known as potassium hydroxide) which is a natural bleaching agent that has been used as a means for tooth whitening. However, just like charcoal, it’s too abrasive and can cause corrosion to the enamel.

Being that some methods are extremely harsh for your teeth, it’s important that you get a dentist’s opinion before attempting any whitening procedure. 

A thorough examination should be performed prior to any professional whitening treatment to ensure there are no pre-existing dental conditions that need to be addressed first.

What do professionals use to whiten teeth?

At Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID, we provide our patients with a customized treatment plan that includes dental trays and a professional-grade bleaching gel.

The whitening gel is safe for your enamel and even for those with sensitive teeth. It contains high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, which is why it cannot be purchased over the counter and also why the results can be seen instantly. 

The dental tray is custom-made to fit over your teeth so that each tooth is coated evenly while preventing the gel from coming into contact with your gums. 

Other whitening treatments, such as the ones previously mentioned, require multiple applications and do not guarantee results, so all they’re essentially doing is causing prolonged damage to the enamel. 

A thorough examination should be performed prior to any professional whitening treatment to ensure there are no pre-existing dental conditions that need to be addressed first.

How do you restore enamel after teeth whitening? 

Unfortunately, you can’t restore enamel once it has become damaged. This is why opting for a professional treatment is not just worth the immediate results, but also for the sake of maintaining healthy tooth enamel. 

Most DIY methods and over-the-counter products can cause severe dehydration to your teeth and a loss of essential minerals that can take days to be restored. During this time, your teeth become weaker and much more prone to absorbing new stains. In the end, the potential risks do not outweigh the benefits. 

In a situation like this, prevention is better than the cure. 

There are several things you can do now to ensure long-term enamel health. 

  • Maintain oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and visit a dentist regularly for checkups so they can catch any dental issues before they become severe. 
  • Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks: Remember that maintaining the pH balance in your mouth is important in protecting your teeth. Acidic and sugary substances like citrus fruits, alcohol, and sweets create an environment that will deteriorate and wear away at the enamel. 
  • Coconut oil pulling: This is a simple technique, backed by scientific evidence, that can help remove toxins and bacteria from the teeth. Simply, swish around one tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes once a day. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Oil pulling using coconut oil could be an effective adjuvant procedure in decreasing plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis.”

The bottom line

The number 1 recommended teeth whitening procedure is the one performed under the direct supervision of a dentist. 

With over 25 years of experience in cosmetic dentistry, Dr. Delwyn Dick, DDS, Dr. Lamont Murdoch, DDS, and Dr. Miranda Anderson, DDS, are able to provide you with a safe and effective whitening treatment that will transform your smile. 

In addition to a customized whitening plan, we’re happy to provide any follow-up dental care you need to support your oral health needs, including dental veneers and dental implants. 

Call 208-762-8750 to schedule your consultation with us today!

Share this post

Get in touch


555 W Canfield Ave.                 

 Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815

Contact Us

Phone :  208.762.8750

Google Support: (208) 516-2080

Our Hours

Mon/Thur/Fri : 7:00 am -3:00 pm

Tues & Wed : 7:00 am -6:00 pm

Follow Us
Award Winning Dentists
Idaho's Best dentist
EliteStar dentist idaho