There has been a lot of coverage about ‘Bleachorexia’ (obsessive teeth whitening) in the news and media lately. We have taken the time to review the clinical research on teeth whitening techniques to provide our friends, patients, and readers with an understanding about teeth whitening techniques so they can make healthy teeth whitening choices.
“The unhealthy obsession of whitening one’s teeth” –Wiktionary
What are the dangers of bleachorexia & obsessive teeth whitening?
Many sensationalistic stories covering the dangers of bleachorexia in the media claim that overuse of carbamide peroxide bleaching products literally erodes the enamel of teeth, which is false. However, there ARE dangers to bleaching teeth using carbamide peroxide gel that can’t be ignored:
- Aggressively High Concentrations
The biggest danger obsessive over-bleaching poses is that using aggressively high concentrations of carbamide peroxide bleaching gel for extensive periods of time. This can kill the nerve of the tooth, requiring root canal therapy. This is one reason it is very important to consult a dentist when starting a regimen for teeth whitening, to make sure that you are using appropriate concentrations of peroxide for appropriate amounts of time.
- Mental Health
It is also important to understand that teeth have a maximum shade of whiteness that they can achieve with whitening products. For some, this maximum shade is whiter than others. Also, patients must understand that many of the images they see in the media are usually photo-shopped and that it is unrealistic to achieve the shades of whiteness they see in the magazines without additional cosmetic dental procedures. Once the maximum shade of whiteness is reached using carbamide peroxide gel, increasing the gel concentration or duration of whitening sessions will not whiten teeth, and could cause extreme sensitivity, shock and trauma to the tooth.
- DIY Products
Be cautious with at-home and DIY methods such as those advocated by popular TV shows & on-air personalities (without proper credentials) that typically combine acid with an abrasive and a whitening compound. The use of these acidic/abrasive products DO literally remove layers of enamel and should not be performed. Removing layers of enamel exposes the underlying dentin, actually making your teeth more yellow.
What is the Best Way to Whiten Teeth safely?
It should be emphasized that whitening with 10% carbamide peroxide gel at the discretion of your dentist is a safe & effective way to whiten teeth.
We would never recommend acidic whitening products that can break down the enamel and wear away the tooth. According to studies, long term overnight tray bleaching using low concentrations of peroxide gel are proven safe over 4 and 10 year recalls, and have no noticeable side-effects. (2008)
According to studies, “A 10% carbamide peroxide treatment in a custom-fitted tray is generally the safest, most cost-effective, best-researched whitening treatment available,” says leading Researcher on Teeth Whitening, Dr. Van Haywood.
When in doubt, ask your dentist!