It's no surprise that teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic procedure: it can transform your look without you having to go under the knife. Whitening is viable for many people's budgets compared to other cosmetic routes. But what if you decide to whiten your teeth at home instead of the office? Many people find that this method takes longer and doesn't give them their desired shades. Some people even overdo it.
Why is it Easy to Over-Whiten at Home?
At-home products use the same ingredients as in-office gels — carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide mixes. The problem is that these at-home solutions aren't as concentrated, so consumers tend to think they are okay if they wear their trays/strips longer to emulate in-office results. The fact is, overbleaching will never change your tooth shades as much as in-office gels.
While you may initially achieve whiter teeth with overbleaching, you risk permanent damage to your gums. Because at-home kits aren't customized for each consumer, it's easy for the gel to spread around and above the gumline. The gel can cause your gums to become sensitive and even recede. Having a dentist perform the procedure is better since he or she will use a rubber shield or sealing gel to protect your gums.
It's Easier to Develop Unhealthy Obsessions
The term "bleachorexia" has been coined to describe this over-whitening phenomenon. Some people become so obsessed they start manifesting symptoms of body dysmorphia, a mental illness where a person obsesses about a perceived flaw in their appearance.
Because there are no gatekeepers for over-the-counter products, it's very easy for someone with bleachorexia to keep whitening since no dentist will be there to intervene. Over-whitening could backfire, since too many OTC strips can strip away the enamel and expose the underlying dentin, thus making your teeth look stained.
Some obsessed patients may even look for other products to supplement their whitening results besides strips and trays. For instance, activated charcoal products are becoming popular, but these aren't approved by the American Dental Association and may be unsafe.
A Dentist Can Help
If your teeth or gums are overly sensitive — especially when brushing or eating — step away from your OTC whitening products. At your next dental appointment, share your concerns with your dentist. He or she can let you know if your whitening is causing the sensitivity. He or she can also prescribe you a toothpaste that can combat this symptom. If you've developed other symptoms of body dysmorphia, contact your physician.
If you still want to whiten your teeth, ask your dentist when you can schedule an appointment. He or she will let you know when your gums and teeth are healthy enough to do so. Many people have to wait months before their dentist will say it's safe to whiten their teeth again. In the meantime, your dentist can prescribe take-home trays with the proper amount of whitening so that you don't overbleach.
Whitening is one of the safest procedures out there; you just have to follow the dentist's orders and bleach in moderation. For more information, contact a company like New Image Dental.