Since 2000, the teeth whitening industry has boomed, raking in over $1 billion a year in revenue. In an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry survey, more respondents identified whiter teeth as the primary aspect of their smile they’d like to change. The thousands of teeth whitening products available at the store, at bleaching spas and kiosks, and at your dentist’s office have made this cosmetic dental procedure extremely affordable. Even the ADA says that teeth whitening, when administered by a licensed dentist, is a safe and effective way to improve the appearance of your smile. Unfortunately, using teeth whitening products irresponsibly can lead to serious and even permanent oral health issues down the line.

Bleachorexia: A Startling Trend

Bleachorexia isn’t just a clever portmanteau. It’s a real problem that, like anorexia, is based in distorted self-image and unrealistic standards of beauty. Think about the last magazine you flipped through, the last movie or TV show you watched, or even the ads that adorn the margins of nearly every website you visit. The people in these pictures have sparkling white, perfectly even teeth. What the images don’t reveal is that many of the people in these images and many of our favorite celebrities have had extensive cosmetic dental work, like porcelain veneers, dental implants, discreet orthodontics, and crowns. While whitening your teeth with an in-office or take-home whitening kit from your dentist can certainly remove enamel stains and make your smile look healthier and more youthful, they cannot achieve the same effects as more extensive (and expensive) dental work.

The more we see images like this, the more we implicitly believe that big, beautiful, dazzlingly white teeth are normal and desirable. Consequently, some people overuse teeth whitening products in an effort to achieve celebrity-level results because they feel that their teeth are never quite “white enough.” While the ingredients in most teeth whitening products are not harmful, using them too often can cause the teeth to take on an unhealthy translucent or pearlescent look. In some cases, excessive teeth whitening can even cause structural damage to the teeth, necessitating restorative dental intervention.

Whiten Responsibly with Your Dentist’s Help

If you’re interested in brightening your smile, your first stop should be your dentist’s office. He can help you choose which type of teeth whitening product will work best for you and, more importantly, he can give you a reasonable estimate regarding how white your teeth will look after treatment, to help you manage your expectations. Following your dentist’s recommendation regarding using your whitening trays or touch up kit will help you enjoy a brighter smile without damaging your enamel.

About Mansfield Dental Associates:

At Mansfield Dental Associates, Dr. Blair Jones and Dr. Seth Harris share the same vision and philosophy when it comes to patient care. We provide thorough, compassionate preventive dental services in addition to a full menu of cosmetic dentistry services, like take home and in-office teeth whitening. Contact our Mansfield, TX dentist office at 817-473-6227 to schedule your next appointment.