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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Teeth Whitening: How White is Too White?

These days, it seems like every celebrity has a whiter smile than the last and many Americans are trying to follow suit. Teeth whitening has become one of the most requested cosmetic procedures in the country and some dentists think that perhaps the general population is going a little bit too far. Having a whiter smile is one thing, but when the procedure begins to damage the teeth it may be time to step back and consider whether the harm that is caused is worth having the most sparkly teeth on the block.

Consult a Dentist
Many people are attracted to the over-the-counter teeth whitening products that can be much less expensive than a procedure at the dentist’s office. The problem with this is that some people don’t follow the guidelines provided with the products and end up miss using them. Rather than rushing out to buy an over-the-counter product, talking to a dental professional can provide the guidance needed to ensure that you are whitening correctly. If decay is present on the teeth, bleach can make its way into the holes and crevasses of the teeth and cause discoloring and pain if a nerve is affected.

Loss of Enamel
Teeth whitening uses chemicals that can begin to break down the natural enamel of the teeth, especially if it is used too often. Rather than getting a whiter smile, people end up with chalky looking teeth that have splotches where the enamel begins to break down. Some people even end up with translucent teeth that are a far cry from the pearly whites their favorite celebrity sports. Losing enamel on the teeth can result in teeth that decay more quickly and are sensitive to temperatures of food and even air.

Too Much Too Soon
The results from teeth whitening are often visible soon after a treatment, which causes people to get overly excited and try to do more whitening as soon as possible. Over-the-counter whitening treatments can last for up to one year, so there is no need to continue using them over and over. At-home bleaching kits can be a big temptation as well, with many people leaving the trays in too long in the hopes that it will speed up the process. As a result, their teeth end up damaged by the chemicals and unable to be repaired except with veneers.

Feel the Burn
People who have whitened their teeth too many times often experience temporary or permanent sensitivity to their gums and teeth. Because the procedure uses chemicals that can be harsh if over-used, patients sometimes feel a burning sensation on their gums. Using a tray that is not customized to the mouth of the user can also cause an overflow of bleach onto the gums, which can cause chemical burns and damage.

A glistening white smile is a beautiful thing, but taking it too far can lead to discoloration and damage that may not be reversible. As a general rule, your teeth should be the same shade as the whites of your eyes for a natural look. The best way to find the perfect level of whiteness is to follow all package directions and listen to a dental profession for advice on how often procedures should be done. 

Please feel free to contact Ella Gray at ella.l.gray@gmail.com with any questions.

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