The Risks of Teeth Whitening: What is Bleachorexia

“Too much of a good thing can be harmful” and this old adage stands especially true when it come to teeth whitening. Thanks to brainwashing media, which portrays unrealistic standards of health and beauty, by showcasing movie stars with million-watt smiles, Americans have now become obsessed with dental hygiene.

The problem?

It seems rather than making their teeth healthier, people are inadvertently destroying them.

Taking Desperate Measures

Many consumers have resorted to bleaching their teeth down to their pulp in a bid to get the ultra-white smile, and dentists are now calling this addiction “bleachorexia.”

Unaware of the irreversible damage they are doing to their teeth, some self-conscious people are resorting to dangerous methods. According to Dr. Laurence Rifkin, a cosmetic dentist in Las Angeles, they rub Clorox —the highly toxic bleach used for scrubbing floors or greasy surfaces — onto their teeth. The bleach is extremely caustic and can result in redness, painful sores or worse, when it comes in contact with skin, let alone the inside of the mouth.

Others use bleaching trays, filled with peroxide based whitening gel designed to fit the teeth, with increasing frequency. Dentists recommend you do not use bleaching trays for more than two weeks consecutively. Once the course is done, consumers should not use it for at least six months. However, this warning seems to be falling on deaf years as Americans continue to abuse these whitening trays.

History of Bleaching

Teeth bleaching isn’t a new technique. An osteoarchaeologist Trevor Anderson noted, people in the 12th century are believed to have scrubbed their teeth with a yellow flower, called elecampane or a sage and salt mixture, to make them firm and white.

In the later years, people started using acid washes to cleanse stained teeth, resulting in their enamel stripping away and their teeth disintegrating. In the 20th century, with the advent of Technicolor movies, people’s obsession with their teeth reached an unprecedented height. Making them run to teeth whitening dentists for bleaching treatments and whitening toothpastes.

Is Teeth Bleaching Bad?

Excessive bleaching is. Here are some of its risks.

  • Hypersensitivity: People who have a high degree of teeth tissue damage, for example, smokers, may further erode their enamel by pursuing excessive teeth whitening. The bleaching ingredients in whitening kits can further irritate your teeth and make them overly sensitive. Without the protection of enamel, your teeth may be prone to infections as well which could lead to swelling gums and extremely painful teeth.

  • Gum Irritation: Over-the-counter bleaching trays come in one standard size, no matter how large or small your mouth is. If you try to fit a too-small tray onto your teeth, it could cause gum irritation or tissue damage.

  • Over-Bleaching: “Bleach junkies” use a lot of bleaching agents on their teeth with increasing frequency, leading to over whitened teeth. Over time, if they continue, the surface of the enamel will erode away and the dentine will show through the teeth. Dentine is yellow in color, so, ironically, these overzealous bleachers will be left with permanently yellowish teeth and will need expensive veneers to cover them up.

So, Is Whitening Your Teeth Bad Or Not?

Teeth whitening is effective and safe in moderation, dentists say. But when you bleach all the time — and over-the-counter kits and “bleaching spas” have enabled bleach junkies to double down on these treatments — your teeth’s health is compromised.

It is essential that you consult a dentist to perform a through oral examination before trying out a whitening treatment, especially if you have cavities, fillings, crowns or dark stains. Patients should also be informed about the adverse effects of continuous bleaching.

Stay healthy and keep smiling!