They say that you can never have too much of a good thing.
But when it comes to whitening your teeth, too much can be a very bad thing.
Overbleaching one’s teeth is becoming an increasingly common practice among people who want the brightest, whitest smile possible — and “bleachorexia,” as the phenomenon is being called, has some pretty terrible effects on one’s dental health.
According to ABC News, overbleaching can cause the gums to recede and can lead to high tooth sensitivity. Whitening your teeth too often can even cause them to appear darker.
“Some people’s teeth get more transparent if you continue whitening,” Van Haywood, DMD, a professor in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation at the Medical College of Georgia, said. “You can see right through them and see the dark shadows of your mouth.”
Perhaps the worst effect of overbleaching is the gradual stripping away of tooth enamel — which is teeth’s hard, protective coating — because once the enamel has been destroyed, the body has no way to grow it back; it’s gone forever.
“Be careful when you choose a teeth-whitening product. They are not all created equal,” says David Richardson, DDS, Kirkland Dentistry. “The products that you purchase from your dentist are ph-neutral and will not harm your tooth’s enamel or damage your gums. Some over the counter whitening agents, however, can be highly acidic. These are dangerous and can do long term damage that can only be repaired through restorative dentistry. Bottom line, stick with your dentist-provided products. While they can make your teeth and gums temporarily sensitive, they safely brighten your smile.”
It’s clear that “bleachorexia” has become a serious problem across the country as people yearn for perfectly pearly whites that most celebrities actually achieve by wearing porcelain veneers.
Los Angeles cosmetic dentist Laurence Rifkin even tells of some extreme cases of bleachorexia in which patients actually use Clorox bleach to whiten their teeth.
“It’s good for surfaces and cleaning, but not in the mouth or even on the skin. It’s very caustic,” Rifkin told ABC News.
So the next time you’re tempted to leave your teeth whitening paste on for a little longer than usual, remember that doing so could cause irreversible damage to your teeth. When it comes to teeth whitening, a little bit goes a long way.