Beauty Q&A: Is Too Much Teeth Whitening Bad?

Photo: Mario Castello/Corbis

Q: How much teeth whitening is too much?

A: For those with sensitive teeth, the whole whitening process is out of the question (and this might be your saving grace). The worst are actually the quickie at-home versions, which can cause such searing pain that one legitimately starts questioning the ingredients used (something you buy at the drugstore shouldn't hurt this bad, right?). So the question to consider is, if these are FDA-approved, safe options to use without consulting a doctor, then why does it feel like someone has taken a drill and shoved it directly into your gums? According to Gerald Curatola D.D.S., at-home whitening kits aren't meant to be used, wait for it ... more than twice a year — despite the fact that most products are FDA-cleared to be used up to four times a year. Peroxide ingredients in all whitening agents can cause serious cellular damage (gingivitis, oversensitivity) inside the mouth. Also, too much whitening can cause teeth to get too white. "I have observed many patients who have damaged their enamel," he says. "Some end up having a bluish shade to their teeth from too much at-home use." So ease off the monthly strips!