Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments available. But many individuals don’t realize that over bleaching can be detrimental to your oral health if performed incorrectly. Here, we’ll explore the safe way to whiten teeth, and discuss several related topics, including:
- Research studies about whitening and the risk of over bleaching
- Statistics regarding the desire for brighter teeth
- Age and how it relates to dental discoloration
- Problems related to over bleaching the teeth
- Professional vs over the counter teeth whitening
- The safe way to brighten teeth
What research has to say about over bleaching
Overall, experts are in agreement that a comprehensive knowledge of tooth whitening is necessary before treatment is performed. Patient education is key. Listed below are a few things individuals should know, summarized from research studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health:
- Highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide gels (30-35%) can easily burn the oral soft tissues. For this reason, dental professionals always use a rubber dam or other protective device to shield the gums during treatment.
- Over bleaching may have a negative impact on tooth enamel and the underlying dentin. Though controversy still surrounds this topic, some evidence suggests that whitening may alter the teeth surfaces, leading to increased porosity, demineralization, depressions, and more.
- Some studies have suggested that brightening your smile causes a significant decrease in tooth hardness and fracture resistance.
- Brightening agents may have a negative impact on the bond strength between natural teeth and composite resin restorations.
- Light activation has no advantage for level of whitening achieved or avoidance of dental sensitivity.
- Aggressive over bleaching causes surface roughness, enamel softening, and it increases the risk for demineralization.
- Restored teeth have a much higher chance of becoming sensitive after treatment.
- The ideal whitening approach includes an initial in-office treatment followed by at-home, touch-up treatments.
Statistics: How Popular is Dental Bleaching?
According to Statista, 38.29 million Americans whitened their teeth in 2019. That number is projected to increase to 38.92 million in 2023. Teeth brightening is incredibly popular, and the trend is expected to stay around for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps it started before ABC’s Extreme Makeover, but the show definitely fed into the public’s obsession with youthful beauty. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look young, vibrant, and beautiful. However, when you compromise your health in the name of beauty, your priorities may need to be adjusted.
Age and Dental Discoloration
As humans age, our porous tooth enamel soaks up stains from foods, beverages, tobacco, and other substances. To look younger, many people turn to over the counter or dentist administered teeth whitening systems. If you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using home whitening kits, and your dentist’s recommendations for whitening treatments, you should enjoy impressive results.
The Problem with Over bleaching
Many people become addicted to wanting a brighter, and brighter, and brighter smile. They over use home whitening products and visit multiple dentists for more and stronger bleach agents more often than is recommended. The results can be uncomfortable and counterproductive.
Aggressive over bleaching can allow chemicals to wear down the protective layer of enamel on your teeth. Brightening chemicals can cause a burning sensation of the gums and other soft oral tissues. In some cases, temporary or permanent, intense tooth sensitivity occurs. The sensitivity ranges from mild to excruciating. Though most sensitivity is caused by temperature or pressure, some individuals addicted to whitening complain of sensitivity to sound and air.
For best results, talk to your dentist about brightening your teeth. Together, you can come up with a plan that will achieve the results you desire without compromising your comfort and oral health.
The Responsible and Safe Way to Whiten Teeth
When choosing a whitening system, it’s important to look for a product approved by the ADA and FDA. Before prescribing treatment, your dentist should assess your teeth and oral health. These products come in varying strengths, so your doctor will evaluate your tooth discoloration prior to recommending treatment. Keep in mind that one visit light systems can cause dehydration and tooth sensitivity. For this reason, many dentists prefer to jump start your treatment in the office and prescribe at-home treatments for follow-up use.
Store bought vs Professional Whitening
While there are many over the counter products that claim to brighten the teeth, many are only designed to create minor changes, often over extended periods of time. Whitening toothpastes, whitening strips, and mouthwashes for instance, spend such little contact with the teeth that most are unable to lighten teeth by more than a few shades – and this may take months to achieve.
When considering any OTC product, you’ll need to follow the directions provided, as overuse can lead to enamel erosion. In the case of home remedies, most are actually too abrasive to be safe for teeth, even though they may rely on what seem like safe, natural ingredients.
How Is Professional Whitening Different?
Most bleaching agents you’ll find in the oral health aisle are not designed to provide dramatic results. For many patients, especially those hoping to achieve dramatic whitening fast, professional whitening is a great solution. That’s because cosmetic dentists provide products that are specifically designed to drastically lighten teeth safely and efficiently. If you want to turn back the clock by erasing years’ worth of stains, professional whitening treatment is often your best option. Wearing the trays 30 minutes is usually all you need to do.
Perhaps best of all, a cosmetic dentist can offer tips on how to keep that gorgeous smile looking its best for the long haul. Advice on brushing and flossing and limiting foods and drinks such as red wine that are known for staining teeth. And if you’ve noticed other imperfections, such as a “gummy” smile or worn edges, your cosmetic dentist can help address those concerns as well, giving you the results you seek.
Interested in Safe Ways to Whiten Teeth?
Don’t limit yourself to home style whitening methods such as using coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, activated charcoal, oil pulling, or baking soda to remove stains.
Find out how professional teeth brightening and other cosmetic dentistry procedures could help. Lake Forest Dental Arts serves residents of Chicago and all surrounding communities.