As a cosmetic dentist in Oregon City, Dr. Brett Johnson understands just how important many of our patients consider having a brilliantly bright smile. After all, a whiter, healthier looking smile goes a long way in helping make a good first impression. In fact, a recent study found that the state of a person’s smile goes a long way towards determining how other people form their initial impression of that person.
The teeth whitening industry as a whole is certainly benefiting from our desire for a better looking smile. Teeth whitening has quickly become the most popular and commonly performed cosmetic dental treatment in the U.S. In fact, teeth whitening is forecasted to become a $7.4 billion industry by 2024. Each year, Americans spend $1.4 billion on over-the-counter whitening products in an effort to achieve the brilliantly bright smile the desire.
Having a stunning smile may actually come at the cost of damaging the overall health of our teeth, finds the results of a new study. Researchers from Stockholm University in Galloway, N.J. have discovered evidence that suggests using over-the-counter whitening strips may actually erode the long-term health of our teeth.
“This study shows that there is a loss of protein from the teeth with these whitening treatments,” writes the research team.
The results of the study suggest that patients need to only undergo a whitening regimen when under the care or direction of a dentist.
Whitening’s Impact on Our Oral Health
Our teeth consist of several layers, the outermost being the protective layer of enamel that helps to prevent the development of tooth decay and cavities. The layer underneath our enamel, called dentin, makes up the bulk of our teeth, according to researchers. Dentin consists of high levels of protein, mostly a substance referred to as collagen.
As part of their study, researchers conducted three experiments with over-the-counter whitening strips. Whole teeth were placed in an artificial saliva to try and simulate the natural conditions found in the human mouth.
Researchers then treated the teeth with whitening strips for between 20 to 60 minutes, as directed. The teeth were subjected to a round of 20 strips overall.
Researchers noted that exposure to hydrogen peroxide, one of the main active ingredients in over-the-counter whitening brands, caused significant problems with protein in dentin by making it break down. In another experiment, researchers exposed collagen directly to hydrogen peroxide. The collagen all disappeared.
While the study couldn’t replicate what happens to living teeth, the results do help to reaffirm why whitening should only be done under the supervision of a dentist.
Protecting Your Oral Health
Hydrogen peroxide works to whiten teeth by stripping stains from tooth enamel. Due to the abrasive nature of this compound, it can be easy for patients to inadvertently harm their oral health by overusing or abusing whitening products.
In a desire to achieve a brighter smile, you may be tempted to wear whitening strips for longer or more often than directed. This can lead to excessive exposure of hydrogen peroxide that can cause permanent damage to your teeth.
Fortunately, patients have a much lower risk of overusing whitening products when done under the supervision or instruction of a cosmetic dentist in Oregon City like Dr. Johnson. Not only can Dr. Johnson provide you with the proper instruction on how to use your whitening product, he can also ensure that your oral health is in good enough shape to even start whitening treatments.
Patients dealing with enamel erosion, thinning, or severe decay may not be healthy enough to start a whitening regiment. Additionally, patients dealing with receding gums or severe gum disease may also need to improve their oral health before trying to whiten their teeth.
A healthy, brilliantly bright smile is possible, but should only be done safely in order to protect your long-term health. Don’t ruin your smile by trying to whiten it. Contact your cosmetic dentist in Oregon City today to see if teeth whitening is right for you.