Teeth Whitening Dangers?

Everybody wants whiter teeth, but could that pearly white smile cost you your health?

Researchers at Georgetown University say hydrogen peroxide, the active ingredient in those popular whiteners may cause tongue cancer. They reached the conclusion after they say two people in their 20's got the disease. Both used teeth whiteners and had no other risk factors. But local dentists like Rick Coker say you shouldn't be too alarmed at this new information.

"No reputable scientist would read that study and say anything other than, "well that's interesting," he says.

Dr. Coker says the study only looked at 19 people and is totally inconclusive.

"The fact that two of them had whitened their teeth, is probably just a statistical thing. That many people probably would have whitened their teeth," says Dr. Coker.

He says none of his patients have ever had problems with over-the-counter teeth whitening products, but he doesn't recommend them.

"I am a little concerned about over-the-counter, because there is no supervision. It's not that it is a bad material, but anything in excess can cause harm," he says.

Mainly teeth sensitivity and severe pain. He says only a few studies done on animals, and this latest very small study done at Georgetown have shown they cause cancer. He says both are not considered reputable, but does believe your safest bet is to get it done professionally, by your dentist. Doctor Coker also says professional teeth whitening can be much cheaper than the over-the-counter option. Bleaching at his office costs 99 dollars and lasts for years. The over-the-counter products cost anywhere from 15 to 30 dollars for a two week supply.