American’s tend to have a fixation with wanting to look absolutely perfect and that’s one of the reasons that cosmetic surgery is still a booming industry in this country. Perfect doesn’t just end with the body though, it also extends into the mouth. Teeth whitening is the latest fixation of some Americans to the point of dentists referring to this mindset as “bleachorexia”.
Dental bleaching is a common procedure in general dentistry. According tot the FDA, whitening restores teeth to their natural color, but bleaching whitens teeth beyond their natural color. Bleaching is done by using carbamide peroxide, which is about one third the strength of hydrogen peroxide.
Tooth bleaching dates back to the Ancient Romans, so the process is nothing new. What is new, is a segment of the population taking bleaching to a whole new level. Los Angeles-based cosmetic dentist, Laurence Rifkin, says that over-bleaching is an all too common practice and it can lead to permanent damage for the patient.
“Once the enamel has been chemically eroded away, then it’s gone, it;s gone forever,” Rifkin notes. One of the more high-profile cases of teeth bleaching comes from World Boxing Council champion, Mia St. John. St. John explained that she became so obsessed with bleaching her teeth that her dentist had to step-in. “He said my teeth could basically turn to mush just because I was destroying the enamel” she explained.
Besides your teeth turning to mush, additional side effects include brittle and chalky teeth which could lead to hypersensitivity.
It’s no surprise why Americans want to improve their teeth. According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96% of adults believe a good smile makes a person more attractive. Additionally, 74% believe that a bas smile could be a disadvantage to your career.
In an attempt for the perfect smile, Americans spend $1.4 billion annually on tooth whitening products, which is up 300% since 1996 and why many Americans are ignoring the recommended guidelines on these products.
So how much is too much? Well, it’s different for every person. Depending on a variety of factors including the strength of your teeth and enamel and prior whitening techniques, you may be able to handle more bleaching than someone else. The FDA recommends to consult with your dentist before every whitening procedure.
Over-bleaching can actually lead to your teeth becoming more transparent as opposed to whiter. In some patients, you can actually see dark shadows in their mouth because their teeth have become transparent.
Americans tend to follow trends set by celebrities and almost every celebrity has a pearly white smile. However, most celebrities tend to prefer porcelain veneers over bleach. Veneers are thin, ceramic shells that are attached to your existing teeth to give the patient a perfect set of teeth. Celebrities prefer this method, because they can afford it! Veneers can cost between $800-$2,000 per tooth!
Bleaching is very effective and safe in moderation. If you are looking to whiten your teeth a few shades and have realistic expectations, make sure to consult a dentist before using an whitening products.
Dr. Mike Mavrostomos is passionate and top-quality comprehensive care dentist located in Bedminster, NJ whose continual pursuit of education and state-of-the-art dentistry has led to his being recognized as one of New Jersey’s Top Dentists by the New Jersey Top-Docs committee. Check out our website, reviews, & Facebook page. Connect with us and learn!