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Is It Possible to Over-Whiten Teeth?

We all want a whiter, brighter smile, and thanks to a multitude of products on the market, it’s now easier and more affordable than ever. But how much is too much when it comes to a white, healthy smile? Is it possible for teeth to be "too white," and are all those over-the-counter whitening products really safe?

What causes discoloration on teeth?

Before you can understand how bleach works, you need to understand how teeth get stained in the first place. Teeth stain for many reasons, including drinking dark liquids like coffee and wine, not cleaning teeth properly, and smoking. Teeth can even stain from medications like tetracycline or from taking too much fluoride, also known as fluorosis.

While stains from drinking coffee and neglecting to brush as frequently as you should are easy to remove, stains from other causes, like smoking and medications, are very difficult to remove, even with regular whitening.

What kinds of whiteners are available?

There are many different whitening options on the market. The most effective whitening treatments are the trays or in-office whitening procedures you get from your dentist. They use medical-grade bleaching agents in high enough concentrations to make a big impact. Because of this they are not available over the counter.

There are also many over-the-counter bleach products, including toothpastes, "white strips," whitening gum, bleach kits with lights, chewing gum and even toothbrushes that promise to whiten teeth. Though these products are easily obtainable and vary widely in price, these products are also generally not as effective as prescription whitening options. This means people are more likely to overuse them - whether it's because they don’t work well, or because the consumer simply doesn’t know any better. The problem with overuse? It can damage the teeth.

How does over-whitening harm the mouth?

There are a number of ways in which overuse of whitening products can harm your smile. Excessive whitening can cause the teeth to become so white they’re literally translucent, which can actually make them look more stained in the end.

Whitening products can also cause sensitivity to the teeth and with excessive use can wear away tooth enamel, making teeth dry and brittle.

Because these products contain harsh chemicals like peroxide, they can also harm the rest of your mouth by burning your gums, tongue and throat.

If you think your teeth need whitening ...

Do you think your teeth need whitening? Don’t rush into anything. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Abelar and discuss your options before trying to whiten your teeth on your own. Dr. Abelar can be reached at 858-866-9692.

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