What does a cup of tea, red wine, brightly colored popsicles and blueberries have in common? They all stain your teeth! Many things you do on a daily basis can cause your teeth to take on a darker, yellow or aged-looking appearance which is why so many of us count on whitening procedures to keep our pearly whites white.
A big, beautiful white-toothed grin can greatly improve your appearance, take years off your looks, boost your self-confidence and help you make a killer first impression but you have to know when enough is enough. When it comes to tooth whitening — like everything else — some people take it way too far. Dentists have coined the term “bleachorexia” for those who take it to this level of over-whitening where it never to be white enough for them.
If you’d like to whiten your teeth in a safe and effective manner without any risks to you or the health of your teeth and gums, Dr. Timothy Chase, Cosmetic Dentist and Practicing Partner at SmilesNY in New York City recommends you to start with a visit to your dentist who can discuss your options with you. You’ll also get a thorough exam and cleaning prior to beginning any whitening treatment to make sure your mouth is free of cavities or gum issues which could lead to further, more serious issues when whitening.
Dr. Chase likes Zoom! as the best in-office way to whiten teeth and his favorite at-home method also requires a visit to your dentist for whitening trays. If you’re not doing it under the care of your dentist you’ll want to be on the lookout for symptoms like tooth sensitivity or pain, which is usually followed by the edges of your teeth starting to look transparent. Should these signs start to become evident you should discontinue whitening immediately. Luckily, over time these conditions usually dissipate.
Dr. Chase says, “There are warning signs and health risks associated with this condition.” Here’s what you need to know to make sure you don’t suffer the consequences:Signs you’re over-doing the whitening:
Sensitive teeth, especially to cold
Inflamed or bleeding gums
Teeth that look blue or see through along the edge
Health risks that can arise from over whitening:
Damage to the nerves your teeth
Thinning of your tooth enamel
Burning of your gums
If you experience any of the health risks associated with over-whitened teeth — nerve damage, burned gums, thinner enamel — chances are good that your tooth sensitivity will subside a few days post-treatment, but over-whitening can also have more dire results. Chase says that “usually tooth sensitivity will go away within a few days after you stop whitening but in rare cases – usually with unreputable whitening agents, there may be permanent nerve damage requiring a root canal.”
A beautiful white-toothed smile is within reach. There are many over-the-counter at-home whiteners but a visit to the before you begin will protect you from potential complications and ensure you get white right.