Health/Fitness

Hidden dangers of teeth whitening

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Millions of people spend more than a billion dollars a year buying products to get a whiter smile.

There's everything from over the counter gels and strips to power bleaching performed by dentists. But, experts say too much bleaching can actually give you the opposite effect of what your looking for.

Hollywood may help to fuel the whitening industry. Stars like Katherine Heigl say a white, bright, smile is important for success.

In a recent interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Heigl said, " Everything's been going great since I got my teeth fixed!"

The Hollywood message hits home with Triangle resident Jennifer Pinney. "You look at Jessica Simpson," said Pinney. "Her teeth. it looks like she paints them white and I love it! I just wish I could get my teeth that white."

Pinney isn't alone. Millions of Americans spend billions on products to get a whiter, brighter smile. "I just think people look at your smile. That's one of the first things they look at is your teeth," said Pinney.

To get a million dollar smile, Pinney tried over the counter whitening strips at home with little results. She then headed to Cary cosmetic dentist Dr. Bobbi Stanley for a powerful whitening procedure called Zoom!

"I chose Zoom! whitening cause it takes and hour in the dentist," said Pinney. "You don't have to do anything outside. You come in and an hour later you're white."

How to get whiter teeth is something Dr. Stanley hears about daily from younger and younger patients. "I think there are risks and we have to look at those," said Stanley. "Children have very large nerve pulps. We call them pulps in dentistry. And, as we get older those nerves get smaller and smaller and I worry about the damage to that. There's been no research to show there's beeen damage to that but there is a concern there. So, I want to limit that for a child."

Stanley says you may want to also limit how much you whiten. She explains whitening too much can actually have the opposite effect.

Stanley says whitening your teeth involves using hydroven peroxide which is what bleaches the tooth. But when used improperly, experts say you can actually do more harm than good.

"You can overdo it," said Stanley. "Some people can whiten so much that they literally whiten the white out of their teeth and their teeth become translucent and they appear gray."

Stanley says there are other possible problems associated with whitening too much.

"Some of these over the counter products have not been tested and there are lawsuits that are pending for materials that have actaully caused gum trauma or caused the tooth to actually dissolve." said Stanley.

Dr. Stanley says the bottom line is you should limit how much you whiten and to avoid complications always consult with a professional like Jennifer Pinney did.

"That's why I chose to go to the dentist," said Pinney. "Your face is something everybody sees and you dont want to mess anything up."

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