Here in America, we are obsessed with white teeth. Teeth whitening is statistically the most popular cosmetic procedure in the country, and polls suggest that a staggering 80% of adults want whiter teeth.
But that obsession can get out of hand, and for some people, the quest for whiter teeth can put dental health at risk. It’s a problem that some dentists are calling “bleachorexia.”
How Much Bleaching Is Too Much?
While teeth whitening itself can be done safely in moderation, when it becomes extreme, it can start to permanently damage your teeth. Over-the-counter whitening products have recommended frequency of use listed on their packaging, but many people disregard these warnings in favor of a whiter smile.
In small amounts, the whitening agents in most home tooth bleaching kits are harmless. But when overused, these substances can cause receding gums and strip away enamel. Without that protective enamel, teeth become more sensitive and more easily prone to decay — not to mention that underneath the enamel, our teeth are slightly more yellow, defeating the purpose of bleaching at all.
Unfortunately, tooth enamel can’t grow back: Once it’s damaged, it’s too late. If drugstore whitening kits wear down your enamel enough, you might need to get reconstructive dentistry like porcelain veneers to take over your natural enamel’s protective duties.
What’s the Right Way to Whiten?
In addition to the damage that some non-prescription whitening kits can do, there are also many drugstore whiteners that do… nothing at all. Many whitening kits don’t have enough bleaching agent in them to make a visible difference on most teeth, and some only work if your discoloration is from extremely recent stains.
So how can you whiten your teeth safely and effectively? A visit to your dentist will get you the best results with the least risk to your teeth.
You have two options for teeth whitening at the dentist: In-office treatment, and take-home treatment. For some patients, a combination of both is the best way to reach your whitest possible shade.
An in-office whitening treatment only takes an hour, and the difference can be dramatic. In fact, many patients find that their teeth continue to lighten over the weeks after their in-office treatment, sometimes up to ten shades overall. The Sinsational Smiles teeth whitening procedure used in our office uses a pH-balanced bleaching gel which is activated by a special light. This gel attacks stains and discoloration to bring your teeth back to their natural white shade.
If you’d prefer to do your whitening at home, or if you want further bleaching after an in-office treatment, the KÖR Whitening system will deliver professional results in the comfort of your own home. Your dentist will prepare these fitted take-home trays, which you can wear all night when you sleep. While most over-the-counter whitening trays are only active for about half an hour, these trays will be actively lightening your teeth for over six hours.
If you want to achieve whiter teeth safely and effectively, your dentist can help you choose the best solution.