The Dangers of Bleachorexia

Illustration by: Ji-Young Park

Bleachorexia is a medical term used by dental professionals to describe the obsession of whitening teeth for a bright smile. This means that a person’s desires for white teeth exceed their natural capacity, resulting in negative risks to their dental health. If you are curious about the side effects of overusing teeth whitening kits and are seeking more information about these treatments, then you’ve arrived at the right place. Read on to learn more.

What Happens When You Overdo Teeth Whitening Treatments?

Nearly all of the whitening treatments contain hydrogen peroxide, a cleaning and bleaching agent that gives excellent results if used as directed. When overdoing the treatment and abusing the bleaching agent, there are high chances of negative effects occurring and those include:

  • Darkening of Teeth: Contrary to the desired results, sometimes bleachorexia can result in the darkening or transparency of the teeth.
  • De-Mineralization: When excessive teeth bleaching damages the enamel of the teeth, they become susceptible to fractures, decay, and breaking. 
  • Hypersensitivity of Teeth: Bleaching of teeth can cause the teeth to become temporarily sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. 
  • Gum Damage/Irritation: This can be counted as a temporary side effect of bleachorexia, as it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

Recommended Teeth Whitening For Home and In-Office

In-Office Tooth Whitening

Teeth whitening by a dental professional can lead to quicker and better results, and the results are usually better than home kits. This is because the combination of heat and light used in the office speeds up the teeth whitening procedure.

Read more: Foods That Whiten Teeth

At-Home Teeth Bleaching Options

For at-home teeth whitening options, you can choose between different varieties:

  • Teeth Whitening Strips and Gels: These are applied directly on to the teeth by using a brush or a thin strip. The strips and gel are both peroxide-based bleaching products and have to be applied once or twice a day for 2 weeks to get the best results. 
  • Tray-based Tooth Bleaching Systems: This involves a mouth guard-like tray which is filled with a peroxide-based bleaching gel or paste. This tray is placed over the teeth for about several hours a day. This process goes on for about four weeks. 
  • Tooth Whitening Toothpastes: These are very common nowadays, and are mildly abrasive, which helps with whitening and removal of stains from teeth. 

How to Choose a Good Teeth Whitening Kit for Home Usage?

Teeth whitening kits should always be bought based on a dentist’s recommendation and should be medically licensed just to stay safe (think: Crest 3D white strips). Be sure to do additional research about the product prior to purchasing to avoid any Another thing to consider when choosing a good teeth whitening kit is that there should be a regular assessment of the user’s teeth for sensitivity.

Benefits and Drawbacks of In-Office vs. At-Home Teeth Whitening Treatment

For in-office systems, the results are almost always immediately visible. The whole process takes only a few appointments and is a bit more costly than the home treatment kits. Whereas for at-home treatments, the treatments are not supervised. To perform a safe teeth whitening process, the person should follow the instructions provided well. Home teeth whitening treatments take weeks, even months, to achieve the final results because the bleaching agents in the at-home kits are relatively mild compared to professional treatments. As always, please consult your dentist before committing to any kind of whitening treatments if you are unsure.