It is wonderful to have a dazzling white smile, and there are dozens of Do It Yourself or Over The Counter teeth whitening products available – the demand is high! They promise to whiten your teeth in as little as 4-6 weeks, at a fraction of the cost of professional whitening done by your dental professional. Sounds like a great idea, but be aware, these fly-by-night
whitening systems can potentially damage your teeth by wearing away at the enamel
of your smile, weakening the teeth and leaving your oral health to suffer.
A study recently completed by the Ohio State University College of Dentistry evaluated the hardness of human enamel with the use of five name-brand tooth whiteners, comparing their
values to non-treated enamel. Decreased hardness and elastic modulus of enamel were found in the study, and the conclusion read: "Nanohardness of human enamel was significantly decreased after usage of home-bleaching systems. The elastic modulus of enamel was also affected by at home bleaching systems"
Once tooth enamel hardness and elastic modulus has been reduced, a number of problems can start occurring. Teeth with weakened enamel are primarily more brittle and porous than
healthy teeth, and are more likely to chip and break with little pressure. The savings in purchasing an OTC whitening kit over visiting your dentist could be reversed, many times over, if you were to chip or otherwise damage your teeth!
Before starting the teeth whitening process, it is best have your teeth evaluated by a dental professional – there may be a hidden cavity or weakened enamel already existing. Existing restorations, gum recession, tooth erosion and root exposure might be affected by the bleaching process. If you do decide to go through the bleaching process, keep your mouth clean, brush right after meals and beverages and brush after usage of any whitening products. This will help to maintain the health of your tooth structure. Stay away from foods or beverages that are acidic, or have a staining effect. Lastly, check into whether an added fluoride treatment could be beneficial in strengthening and/or remineralizing your enamel. It feels great to have a set of healthy whites – just bewise about your whitening decision! Speak with your dental professional for more information and go for that smile you've always wanted.