According to MSNBC, tooth whitening is the “No. 1 requested cosmetic service today.” The tooth whitening industry has expanded by leaps and bounds in the past 10 years, as dentists have begun to offer cutting-edge whitening treatments and over-the-counter options have become stronger and more numerous.
Many often ask does teeth whitening hurt the mouth or oral health in general? Here, we offer evidence that regular whitening treatments can actually damage the teeth.
These days, there are three main types of whitening options:
- Treatments administered at the dentist’s office.
- Treatments prescribed by a dentist but administered at home.
- Over-the-counter treatments (“whitening strips”) produced by a range of companies.
Within each type of option are a range of commercial products marketed to make consumers think their teeth will look like their favorite celebrity’s when treatments end. But does it ever happen?
The Truth about Whitening
The truth is, most celebrities that show off that white-as-a-picket-fence smile have veneers – the surface you’re seeing isn’t even natural tooth enamel! That very white look can be achieved with high concentrations of the whitening active ingredient, hydrogen perioxide, but you may experience tooth and gum pain in the process. Keep in mind healthy tooth enamel is not pure white but rather a similar white as the white of an eye.
When should you do a teeth whitening procedure and what are realistic expectations?
If you smoke or enjoy your red wine or coffee, your teeth may be stained with a brownish or even reddish tint. Tooth whitening that carefully follows package directions or is done in a dentist’s office can remove most of those stains, restoring teeth to a less stained but still natural tint.
Keep in mind some in-office whitening procedures can be painful, either during or after the whitening session. Be prepared for some discomfort during and after an in-office procedure, and decide whether the pain is worth a whiter smile. Even over-the-counter strip options can result in sensitivity in some individuals, as the active hydrogen peroxide can be harsh in some cases.
If you overuse over-the-counter whitening products or use prescription strength whitening products in ways other than the directions instruct, the results could damage both teeth and gums. Bleachorexia is becoming a problem among certain people who want the white teeth look 24/7. Overuse of the active ingredients in whitening products can actually eat through tooth enamel over time. Gums and other soft tissue can take on an unhealthy look and tooth enamel can break down.
If you’d like to build a powerful daily health regimen to help you keep your teeth looking and feeling their best, PerioSciences can help. Our AO ProVantage products and AO ProRinse help soothe dental tissues and keep your mouth healthy. To learn more about antioxidants in dental care, fill out the form on our blog. To connect with PerioSciences, check us out on Facebook or Twitter.