Ways to keep a healthier smile

Posted on: 7 July 2015

Possessing a bright white smile is something many people desire, but venture too far and you can actually put your oral health at risk (and possibly start to resemble the Cheshire cat). As a general guideline, your teeth are considered 'white' when they match the whites of your eyes, so in helping you avoid the pitfalls of a teeth whitening addiction, check out the following risks and tips to better prepare you for your next course of pearly white treatment.

Signs of a teeth whitening addict

Celebrity culture has more or less forced the opinion that brighter is better when it comes to your gnashers and unfortunately, this has led some people to make the leap from white to glow-in-the-dark territory in their whitening habits. It's possible you're going to extremes with your teeth whitening if you...

  • Leave home whitening kits on longer than recommended
  • Have teeth whitening procedures more than twice a year
  • Regularly use baking soda or other home treatments in between procedures

The effects of professional teeth whitening treatments should last up to a year. Everyone's teeth respond differently, however, so consult with your dentist first. If you find yourself doing any of the above, you could be putting your oral health at serious risk. Below are just some of the main consequences of excessive teeth whitening.

  • Extra sensitive teeth
  • Bleeding or inflamed gums
  • Tooth aches and irritation
  • Translucent or blotchy looking teeth

If proof were needed that there can be too much of a good thing, the latter side-effect is particularly worrying. Not only does this reverse the physical effects you hoped to achieve, but translucency in the teeth can also cause the enamel to become brittle - leading to cracks and chipped edges overtime as the actual calcium component of the teeth starts to weaken.

Get an expert opinion

Many people try cosmetic and home bleaching kits before even consulting someone beforehand, but it is incredibly vital that you do. Everyone's teeth are different and you should not expect to get the same results as Julia Roberts (despite what many whitening gels may tell you).

It is essential to initially discuss your teeth whitening intentions with your dentist. They will be able to pinpoint the unique reason for discolouration in your teeth, how quickly your teeth will respond to the effects and whether or not your oral health makes you a good candidate for teeth whitening. If you have crowns, bridges or veneers for example, these will not respond to whitening — resulting in uneven shades.

Finding this out beforehand will give you an idea of how much whitening your own teeth can take - preventing you from continually 'topping up' the effects when this may make no difference to the appearance of your teeth in the long run.

Maintain a healthy white smile

Treating an addiction to teeth whitening isn't about going cold turkey, but more about learning to feel confident with the minimum amount of treatments and working hard to maintain the results. If you view anything darker than blinding white as discoloured, you need to reacquaint yourself with naturally white. After all, the true purpose of whitening treatment is to make others believe your teeth pass for naturally white due to a healthy diet and good dental hygiene.

Here are some tips to extend the benefits of your teeth whitening treatment:

  • If you experience sensitivity after a whitening treatment, downgrade to a lower-strength product such as whitening toothpastes that contain a polishing agent.
  • Drink stain-causing liquids like tea, wine and fruit juice through a straw to minimise contact with enamel. If not, drinking water in between each of these drinks will also help limit the level of discolouration your teeth face throughout the day.
  • Avoid mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride as these can contribute to staining.  

Trigger added saliva in the mouth by munching on crunchy foods like celery or chewing sugar free gum. Saliva neutralises the acid that causes tooth staining, protecting the whitening effects for as long as possible.