Is it safe to whiten your teeth? That depends. There are several ways to whiten teeth, each with benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the safety pros and cons of different teeth whitening methods.


Whitening toothpaste is cheap and relatively risk-free.

However, despite its popularity, it can present problems if you have sensitive teeth or weak enamel. Whitening toothpaste uses mildly abrasive ingredients to scrub surface stains off your teeth. Though these ingredients don’t cause trouble for most people, they make sensitive teeth feel even worse.

Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Kits

It’s simple to grab a teeth whitening kit from your local pharmacy, but these kits do have potential side effects.

Tooth sensitivity, a common complaint with these kits, is usually the result of user error. It’s easy to leave whitening strips on too long, which can erode your enamel. Products that guarantee speedy results are especially easy to misuse — they have higher concentrations of whitening agents.

Gum sensitivity is another common side effect, especially with whitening trays. A tray you buy from the store will never be a perfect fit, which means it will push and prod your gums.

Natural Home Remedies

Most home remedies are harmless, though there are health risks if you choose the wrong one.

  • Non-experts might recommend unsafe methods.
  • Just because an ingredient is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Home remedies like coconut oil, baking soda, or apple cider vinegar won’t hurt you. However, if anyone recommends using essential oils on your teeth, steer clear. Many are poisonous if ingested.

If you aren’t sure about a home remedy, call your dentist or doctor for advice.

Dental Kits

A dentist’s custom kit is similar to what you might find over the counter, but there are key differences. These kits are customized just for you.

  • The concentration of whitening agents will suit the individualized needs of your teeth.
  • Your whitening tray will be custom fitted.
  • Your dentist will focus on enamel health, not just aesthetics.

In-Office Methods

Having your teeth whitened by a dentist is the best option. Though it may cost more, the combination of fast results and safety is unparalleled.

Dentists suspend whitening agents in special gels so that the process will be gentle on your teeth. Depending on which gel your doctor uses, the process might include using lights to activate the gel.

Most importantly, with your dentist doing the procedure in real time, you’ll have an expert making sure that every step of the process goes flawlessly.


Most teeth whitening methods are pretty safe — but without a professional, you might get unlucky. The safest at-home methods, like whitening toothpaste or gentle natural remedies, are also the least effective. If you want beautiful white teeth without risking your gums and enamel, head to a dentist.