Spring is here with Easter and Passover around the corner. For many, it’s also time for Spring Cleaning!
So, is the quest for getting your pearly whites pearlier driving you mad? We have a new diagnosis for your condition — and it’s called bleachorexia.
Bleachorexia is the term coined to describe an addictive obsession with teeth whitening. “People can become addicted to bleaching their teeth to the point that it’s affecting their dental health”
If you have bleachorexia, you probably don’t need a 12-step program — but you may need to set more realistic expectations about your teeth-whitening products.
Your teeth naturally become stained over time from products like coffee, tea, and tobacco. “Stains may also come from red wine, sodas, and certain types of antibiotics.
So how do whitening products work? Teeth whitening systems rely on the bleaching agent Bleaching works best on yellow-colored teeth, not as well on brown teeth, and not well at all on gray-colored teeth. Teeth discolored by fluoride or antibiotics also tend to be resistant to bleaching.
Teeth Whitening Systems: A Bleachorexic’s Drug?
The American Dental Association (ADA) has approved the following bleaching products:
- In-office teeth bleaching. Also called chair-side bleaching, this office procedure involves applying a protective gel or rubber shield to your gums, and then applying a bleaching agent to your teeth. Special lights may be used to speed up the process. Each visit may take from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- At-home bleaching. We can supply you with a kit to use at home that includes a bleaching solution in gel form and a custom-made appliance to hold the gel in place. The device usually is worn twice a day for 30 minutes or overnight for two weeks. Over-the-counter kits are also available, but they are not ADA-approved or as effective.
- Teeth whitening toothpastes. If you are hoping for a super white smile that comes from super whitening toothpaste, you may be waiting a long time. ADA-approved whitening toothpastes only whiten your teeth by keeping them cleaner. They do not actually bleach your teeth.
When Does Bleaching Go Too Far?
Done right, bleaching your teeth may help you attain that smile you’ve set your heart on. But can it harm? “It can if you overdo it,” “Although ADA-approved systems are safe as long as you follow instructions, bleaching your teeth excessively can actually cause them to get translucent, making them look even less white.”
These risks are also involved with obsessive bleaching:
- Hypersensitivity. Teeth bleaching can make your teeth more sensitive. This is the most common complaint. Your teeth can become sensitive to hot and cold.
- Oral irritation. Your gums, palate, and throat can become irritated from the bleach, and some people also get nauseous from swallowing some of the solution. If they occur, these side effects also subside after you stop using the bleach.
- Tooth enamel erosion. If you use a bleaching kit for too long or bleach too frequently, it’s possible to wear away the outer coating of your teeth. This is just one more reason to stick with an ADA-approved teeth whitening system under the watchful eye of our office.
The Right Way to Whiten Your Teeth
Your first step is to choose your teeth whitening system carefully. As long as you stick to an ADA-approved system or bleach under our direction, your risks are low.
Most of all, be realistic about the results of teeth whitening. A good rule of thumb is that if your teeth are whiter than the whites of your eyes, it doesn’t look natural.
Enjoy Spring and happy whitening!
Call us today to make your appointment! (954) 566-5428
From Dr. Heider and all of us at Ultimate Smile Dental, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.