Be White Wise: See A Professional For Teeth Bleaching

Bothered by your dingy teeth? Maybe coffee, tea, or blueberry smoothies have taken their toll on your whites and they're not so pearly anymore. While do-it-yourself whitening methods make it easy to bleach your teeth in the privacy of your home, there are caveats to doing it safely. Further, there is such a thing as too much whitening, and teeth bleaching addiction is becoming more and more common. For these reasons, you want a professional dentist, certified in cosmetic dentistry, to oversee your teeth whitening endeavors. 

What is teeth bleaching?

Teeth become discolored for three main reasons: food, cigarette smoke, and certain medications. When these substances attach to plaque or tartar, they can then seep into the tooth enamel and make your teeth appear yellow or gray.

Teeth bleaching is a process by which whitening chemicals are applied either onto strips (which you paste onto your teeth) or into trays (which fit over your teeth). Depending on the method used, this can take several applications, and must be maintained with further treatments about once a month. If done by a dentist who is certified in teeth bleaching, the process may go more quickly, as the dentist can use other measures to facilitate whitening, including heat and light.

What are the dangers of DIY teeth bleaching?

There are two main dangers of bleaching your teeth at home.

  1. Supermarket kits. It can be difficult to control the proper amount of solution for your teeth when using a kit, because everyone's teeth are different. If you inadvertently use too much, you may end up with sharp pains in your teeth because the solution has seeped into an open cavity or cracked tooth. These solutions also make your teeth quite sensitive for a short time, which can be quite uncomfortable, especially if you already have sensitive teeth.

  2. Home remedies.An abundance of home remedies for teeth whitening can be found on the internet, but some can do permanent damage to your teeth. For instance, lemon juice can erode tooth enamel--which can never be replaced; this can make your teeth gray and can also create vulnerability to cavities.

What is bleachorexia?

You have probably heard of anorexia, a disorder in which patients irrationally believe they are fat; they so severely restrict their food intake that they become skin and bones, despite the pleadings of their loved ones. A similar phenomenon has been noted in the teeth whitening arena and has been termed "bleachorexia." People with bleachorexia may start out innocently enough to whiten their teeth, only to become hooked on the process once they see results--so hooked that they apply whitening solutions far in excess of label recommendations. This, ironically, results in teeth discoloration, as well as thin, brittle teeth and gums that recede and bleed.

While not everyone experiences negative side effects from DIY teeth bleaching methods, and not everyone becomes a bleachorexic, stop and think before choosing how you're going to whiten your teeth. You might save some money by getting a kit at your local supercenter store, and might gain some advantage by whitening more often than is recommended, but these your permanent teeth you're affecting. You don't get a second chance for permanent teeth.

Before beginning any tooth whitening endeavor, go to your dentist for a thorough examination. You need to know whether any cracked teeth, cavities, or previous dental restorations could make you vulnerable to pain from the bleaching materials. If you're a good candidate for teeth bleaching, ask your dentist if he/she performs the service. If not, ask for a referral to a known and trusted cosmetic dentist. You can also visit to learn more.