Teeth Whitening: Don’t Do It Too Much or Too Long


Years before I investigated teeth whitening hazards for Dr. Oz, I learned about it the hard way with my own teeth. Our Oz investigation focused on the risks of mall kiosks, day spas and standalone businesses that offer teeth whitening without a dentist’s supervision. 

But in my case, I managed to make myself pretty uncomfortable with a dentist in charge of my whitening. I purchased custom-molded whitening trays from my dentist along with vials of bleach that you apply at home.

I’m fine now, but I remember the unique, excruciating pain of tooth sensitivity. I kept feeling the urge to wrap my lips around my teeth and hold on tight, sort of like an elastic bandage to help ease the aching. I also had raw, red gums from the bleaching goo oozing out of the custom trays and burning into the sensitive tissue in my mouth. (Not a pleasant feeling!)

So what went wrong? I left the stuff on way too long! I can’t remember if my dentist instructed me to wear the trays all night while I slept or whether that was my own misguided blunder, but it was a mistake. Later, a different dentist told me not to leave the bleach solution on my teeth for more than an hour at a time.

Teeth-whitening strips available in drug stores should also be used just briefly–typically half an hour at a time–yet I’m sure some people think longer will mean whiter. Wrong! The manufacturers have designed them to be used half an hour a day for two weeks. Individual products may vary, but the point is, read the instructions!

In addition to avoiding bleaching for too long, you should avoid bleaching too often. People who grow addicted to teeth whitening think more often will be better, but boy are they wrong. Teeth that have been overwhitened eventually become semitransparent and start to develop a blue-gray tint! And that leaves you right back where you started, only this time there’s no remedy.