Saturday, April 12, 2014

Is Tooth Whitening Bad for Your Teeth?

Tooth whitening is a procedure that has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. As part of the economic boom of recent years, people have had more disposable income, and they have chosen to dispose of it in search of a better appearance, including a better smile. And the first thing people look for is a whiter smile, because the other thing they've spent their disposable income on is Starbucks Coffee, leading to a discoloration of their dental enamel.
Along with tooth length, tooth color is one of the main determiners of a youthful smile. So now people are beginning to look to tooth whitening to turn back their apparent years, just as they are turning to Botox as a cost-effective solution for battling wrinkles. However, some people wonder whether tooth whitening is such a good idea as it seems, since in some forms it can actually damage your teeth.
Whitening Toothpaste
Whitening tooth paste seems like the ideal solution. After all, anyone who practices good dental hygiene will be brushing his or her teeth several times a day, so if whitening can be done at the same time, it would be ideal. It also seems positive because it can provide a gradual whitening effect that gives a whiter smile over the long run without calling attention to itself.
However, a person should use caution in selecting a whitening toothpaste. Some of the whitening toothpastes include harsh abrasive materials such as silica or aluminum oxide. The goal is to provide whitening by abrading away the stained enamel to reveal the whiter enamel below. This can provide good results for some people, but in the long run it is not a good option. Dental enamel naturally thins anyway as a person ages, and as it thins it becomes more susceptible to cracking and chipping. In addition, if your enamel gets thin enough, it can expose the yellowish dentin below the enamel.
Bleaching Compounds
Bleaching compounds are the other main way that teeth are bleached. Using chemical means, the stains are lightened. The most common active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, which can be delivered in several different ways. Whether you use a store-bought tray, a whitening strip, or get Zoom! tooth whitening at a dentist's office, you are probably getting whitening as a result of exposing your teeth to hydrogen peroxide.
The good news is that all of these products work to some degree, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The bad news is that they also serve to widen the pores in your teeth, which can do many things. The main side effect of widened pores seems to be tooth sensitivity to heat and cold. Another possible side effect is that you may experience deeper staining in the future, and your teeth may be made more susceptible to decay as a result. However, all these potential dangers are theoretical and have not yet been confirmed.
Positive Whitening
Although there are no proven dangers to bleaching compounds, the ideal form of tooth whitening goes beyond just bleaching to actually whiten your teeth by strengthening the enamel. Our saliva naturally contains chemicals that build up the enamel of our teeth in opposition to the erosive processes of decay and damage. You can further help your teeth to rebuild themselves by using toothpastes that contain calcium phosphates. These compounds help your teeth to retain strength and enamel they would otherwise lose.
Author: Patricia Woloch
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