Doctors warn of the dangers of whitening your teeth

Caitlin Chang
Photo: Thinkstock

If you’re on a constant quest for a winning smile, take care.

Dentists in the US are warning of the dangers of over-whitening your teeth, calling it “bleachorexia.”

The effects of over-whitening teeth leaves “bleach junkies” with eroded enamel and sensitivity, despite their healthy-looking appearance.

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“The media has done a good job of making whitening sound innocuous, but it’s not,” US-based dentist Ira Handschuch told ABC News. According to experts, teeth whiteners can irritate gums, cause them to recede and make them so brittle they become translucent at the edges, thanks to the hydrogen peroxide used in whitening agents.

And a bleach junkie is easy to spot. "It's not everybody, but we see it often enough that it bothers me. Enamel doesn't grow back. Sometimes we have to put crowns or veneers on when the teeth have become too damaged," Irwin Smigel, president of the American Society of Dental Aesthetics has also said.

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According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), not everyone needs teeth whitening and it may not be suitable for people with fillings, crowns or veneers. They also recommended speaking to a trained dentist – as opposed to private commercial operators – before trying a whitening treatment or buying over-the-counter products.

Other risks include chemical burns, blistering of your mouth and gums and irritation of the oesophagus and stomach caused by accidentally swallowing the bleaching agent.

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The best way to maintain a megawatt smile? “Practising good oral hygiene is a basic way to making your teeth look whiter naturally,” says Dr Peter Alldritt, Chairman of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee. That means brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes.

Visit your dentist regularly for a professional clean, and avoid foods that stain your teeth enamel such as black tea, coffee, red wine and meals with a lot of spices.


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