Teeth whitening has become one of the most lucrative services in the dental industry. Today, Americans spend billions of dollars on teeth whitening products annually, and it’s the most popular procedure requested by patients ages 40 to 60. Everyone wants whiter teeth, but do whitening techniques pose a risk to your dental health? Aside from a brighter smile, many patients often feel the negative side effects of teeth whitening products and procedures. Using a service provided by your dentist is the best way to whiten your teeth, since your dentist is professionally trained in the art of oral care, but if you decide to use an over-the-counter solution like whitening strips, remember these tips. The Risks of Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Products First, try to avoid products that contain chlorine dioxide as it could destroy the enamel of your teeth. Chlorine Dioxide is the same chemical used to disinfect swimming pools, and the way it “whitens” is by eating away at the surface of your teeth. You might think you’re improving your smile when you’re actually breaking down the protective coating of your teeth and increasing your risk for tooth decay. Many products also contain hydrogen peroxide, which is poisonous if too much is swallowed. Over-the-counter bleaching products can lead to other side effects that can range from heightened sensitivity and irritated gum tissue to bluish enamel and uneven whitening. The chemicals can also seep into a cracked tooth or unfilled cavity, causing internal damage. Dentists refer to these painful sensations as “zingers”, which can last up to several minutes at a time. Respect the Health and Safety Warnings on Products Studies have shown that most people can safely undergo 2 weeks of an over-the-counter treatment or one to two teeth whitening sessions by a dentist per year. But many people using over-the-counter methods to whiten their teeth get impatient with the process and overuse the product to speed up or intensify the whitening results. Some people also become obsessed with achieving perfectly white teeth, much like those with anorexia nervosa experience an obsession with being thin. This desire drives teeth whitening patients to over-treat themselves or pursue solutions outside of the safety standards set by dental health experts. Using whitening chemicals in excess will only get your teeth so white, and you’ll pay the price of damaged teeth for only a shade or two brighter. The Best Whitening Option: Consult a Dentist You may already have genetic predispositions like weak enamel or tooth sensitivity that make it risky for you to bleach your teeth, so to get the bright smile you want in a safe way, it’s best to ask your dentist about whitening options. The friendly professionals at Greenspoint Dental will help you decide which treatment is right for you. Before you choose an over-the-counter product, contact our office for a teeth whitening consultation.