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Does Teeth Whitening Cause Cavities?

I’ve been doing teeth whitening with this kit my dentist provided for me. But, now my teeth have started becoming sensitive. I looked online and it said teeth whitening can lead to cavities. Is that’s what is happening? Should I stop whitening?


Dear Meredith,

It seems like you’ve been given some half information. That can make things quite confusing for you. Your tooth enamel is extremely strong and loaded with minerals. Over time, we can wear down our teeth or demineralize them with bacteria and a high acidic diet. Fortunately, our saliva is loaded with cavity-fighting minerals and fluoride is a great aide in re-mineralizing our teeth.

How Teeth Whitening Products Can Affect Our Teeth

Whitening Toothpastes

This is one of those products which tends to do more harm than good. Most of these products are abrasive as an aggressive means of removing surface stains. This has the unfortunate effect of leaving micro scratches on the surfaces of your teeth; damaging the enamel and causing your teeth to pick up more stains than they normally would.

Professional Teeth Whitening

The type of teeth whitening your dentists provides for you doesn’t just remove surface stains. Instead, it opens the tubules in your teeth and oxidizes the stains from within. They generally only stay open for a day or two. During that period you should have been encouraged to stay away from staining foods and beverages (such as coffee and tea). It’s possible for you to experience some sensitivity during this period, but that does not mean you are more susceptible to decay.

If you’re experiencing sensitivity, it’s always a good idea to let your dentist check it out. It could be you have some decay developing, unrelated to your whitening, and this is just giving you the warning bell. It may be a fluoride rinse will help with both the sensitivity or any demineralization you’re experiencing. This could prevent full-blown decay and the need for a filling.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville Dentist Dr. David Newkirk