The Dark Side of Teeth Whitening

One of the latest must-have celebrity fads to catch on isn’t your regular fashion accessory. In recent years, teeth whitening treatments have seen a rise in popularity as fans try to match the pearly whites of their favorite stars. However, the pursuit of the perfect smile could be doing long term damage to your teeth. Here we cover the facts surrounding teeth whitening and look into the possible side effects.

Unfortunately, it just isn’t normal for teeth to have a perfectly white appearance. As we age, teeth tend to naturally darken from the inside and when combined with bad habits, such as prolonged use of tobacco and drinking coffee excessively, your teeth can easily become discolored.

Lack of oral hygiene can also contribute to staining of your teeth, as the build-up of plaque leads to tartar formation. Once formed on the surface of the tooth, this sticky, brown substance cannot be removed by the soft bristles of your toothbrush and will require dental treatment for removal.

Over-the-counter Teeth Whitening Products

For those that have a less than perfect shade of white, it can be tempting to try teeth whitening treatments sold at drug stores and grocery stores. However, caution is strongly advised. These cheaper alternatives could end up costing you a lot more in the end and leave you with brittleness and sensitivity problems.

Not all whitening products will successfully lighten teeth and issues can arise if a product is used more often than recommended by the manufacturer or by your dentist (assuming you asked for the advice of your dentist in the first place).

The major active ingredient in most store-bought teeth whitening products is carbamide peroxide which, when dissolved in water, breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent. Regular bleaching of your teeth using products containing this chemical can strip away the lighter enamel and lead to painful side effects as well as a blotchy appearance by exposing the darker dentin below.

Worn enamel makes teeth more brittle, leaving them more susceptible to cracking or chipping. In extreme cases of enamel erosion, teeth can even become flexible and bend when pressure is applied. Without the protective enamel coating, your teeth will also become more sensitive, even to the point where you have to avoid eating certain foods such as ice cream.

Professional Whitening

Consulting with your dentist before you participate in teeth whitening is a wise move. Not all whitening treatments will work, especially if you have coverings to your teeth, such as porcelain veneers. The bleaching agents in whiteners will not affect these materials and there will be noticeable discoloration between dental coverings and whitened teeth.

You should trust your dentist to help you keep your teeth white and bright! Their professional guidance will direct you to the most effective whitening treatment for your teeth and save you the risk of doing damage and having to live with the painful or unsightly consequences.

Should You Whiten Your Teeth?

Good oral health is about more than just white teeth. Brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, rinsing with mouthwash and frequent dental check-ups are all part of a sound oral health routine that helps to maintain a perfect smile. If you do decide to whiten your teeth, you should consult your dentist for honest, professional and informed advice before undergoing any treatment.

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