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Teeth Whitening

Whitening Key Points

  1. Whitening treatments can be effective on both extrinsic and intrinsic staining
  2. Whitening may not be an option for all patients
  3. Safe and effective whitening options are available for in-office applications, dentist-supplied products for use at-home, and over-the-counter whiteners.
  4. Temporary tooth sensitivity and gingival (gum) inflammation are potential adverse effects associated with whitening

ADA develops new dental standards on teeth whitening, other topics

By Michelle Manchir for ADA, originally published June 9, 2016.
A new resource is available for dental professionals who whiten patients’ teeth.
In January, the American National Standards Institute approved an ADA-developed standard regarding products for external tooth bleaching.

ANSI/ADA Standard No. 136 addresses requirements and test methods for products intended for external bleaching of natural teeth by chemical means, and is available for purchase at by searching for “standard No. 136.”

Dr. Carey

Dr. Carey

“The public has started using bleaching agents more than ever before, and thus standards are needed to assure the profession and the public that bleaching products are safe,” said Clifton Carey, Ph.D., a member of the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Products working group that developed the standard. “Requirements for meeting label-declared concentrations of active ingredients; assurance of enamel safety (i.e., no softening or erosion); restoration safety; soft tissue safety; toxicity; and instructions for proper use are included in this standard.  These requirements are based on the best evidence available.”

Dental professionals, manufacturers, researchers — including those from the ADA Laboratories — and other subject matter experts collaborated over several years to develop the standard.

“The goal within this group is to establish safety requirements so that the public does not face risk of harm when using bleaching products,” said Dr. Carey, who is a director of translational research at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine.

The Council on Scientific Affairs is expected to incorporate these safety requirements for external tooth whitening into the ADA Seal of Acceptance Program Requirements. In order to obtain the ADA Seal, manufacturers will be required to submit safety data in accordance with ANSI/ADA Standard No. 136, as well as evidence for product efficacy.

The development of technical and dental standards, including No. 136, is an often-overlooked ADA member benefit. The ADA is the exclusive developer of U.S. dental standards approved by the American National Standards Institute, and it also participates in the development of international dental standards.

Other ADA standards published this year include ANSI/ADA Standard No. 135:2015, Denture Adhesives, which specifies requirements, test methods and instructions for use of denture adhesives used by wearers of removable dentures; and ADA Technical Report No. 1075; 2015, Electronic Orthodontic Dental Laboratory Prescriptions, which presents the types of data and electronic formats necessary for an electronic orthodontic dental laboratory prescription.

For more information about the ADA’s development of standards or to get involved in their development, visit, or email