Could You Have Bleachorexia?

Listen up, teeth-whitening junkies: Dentists say there’s a right way and a wrong way to bleach your teeth — and going overboard could harm your health.

Is the quest to getting your pearly whites pearlier driving you mad? Dental health professionals have a new diagnosis for your condition — and it’s called bleachorexia.

Bleachorexia is the term that these specialists have coined to describe an addictive obsession with bleaching their teeth to the point that it’s affecting their dental heath,” warns Alyson Hope Koslow, DDS, a clinical assistant professor in the department of restorative dentistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

If you have bleachorexia, you probably don’t need a 12-step program — but you may need to set more realistic expectations about your teeth-whitening products. “In reality, bleaching teeth only removes stains,” explains Dr. Koslow. “Your teeth will not be any whiter than they were before the stains changed your natural tooth color.”

Your teeth naturally become stained over time from products like coffee, tea, and tobacco. “Stains may also come from red wine, sodas, and certain types of antibiotics or too much fluoride,” Koslow says.

So how do whitening products work? Teeth whitening systems rely on the bleaching agent peroxide (a chemical that can make your teeth look brighter). Peroxide works best on yellow-colored teeth, not as well on brown teeth, and not well at all on gray-colored teeth. Teeth discolored by fluoride or antibiotics also tend to be resistant to bleaching.

Teeth Whitening Systems: A Bleachorexic’s Drug?

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