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Saturday, Feb. 14th 2015

Can Whitening Damage Your Teeth?

Though there’s a lot of pressure these days to have a perfect smile, teeth whitening is not as new as you’d think.  Ancient Greek used bleach to whiten your teeth, and Renaissance Europeans used a variety of substances.  However, some historical methods were very corrosive – you were as likely to lose your teeth as to whiten them!

Modern whitening strips aren’t nearly so dangerous.  Their active ingredients are peroxide and urea.  The peroxide works to whiten the enamel, while the urea works to break apart the stains on the teeth.

So, can you harm yourself with whitening products? If you follow the product’s instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems.  Some users push the teeth-formed strips into their gums, and this can cause inflammation and sensitivity.  Also, using the strips too often and for too long can cause porosity in the enamel.  Instead of further whitening, prolonged exposure can lead to extreme translucency instead.

Besides health concerns, some whitening strip users find there’s such a thing as too white.  Though perfectly white teeth may look good on a magazine cover, some find extremely white teeth unnatural and distracting in person.

If you’re looking for other whitening methods, there are alternatives to whitening strips.  Several toothpastes tout whitening properties, using similar ingredients to the strips.  Baking soda is low-cost way to whiten your teeth, but again, misuse is a factor: too much baking soda is abrasive and can damage your teeth.  Fruits such as apples and strawberries break down stains naturally, though their sugars can damage the teeth if not rinsed out with water.  Hydrogen peroxide from the bottle is cheap, whitens teeth, and is safe as long as it’s not swallowed (it can damage the esophagus).  Most bottled peroxide is at 3% concentration, while whitening strips typically use a 10% concentration.

While these alternative methods may be cheaper than whitening strips, they may not necessarily be safer.  Whatever method of whitening you use, make sure you’re using it safely.


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