Addiction-MonitorNo one doubts that white teeth are desirable. Bright, sparkling teeth can boost your self-confidence and give you a healthier, more vibrant appearance. However, if you are considering cosmetic dentistry in Houston, TX, there is a new hazard to be aware of: bleachorexia. The word may sound ridiculous, but it is a very real, dangerous, and growing phenomenon in our society. Bleachorexia is an addiction to teeth whitening, and like any addiction, it typically springs from low self-esteem, coupled with perfectionism and a desire to succeed. While cosmetic dentistry is a huge benefit to many patients, those who become addicted to whitening treatment can wreck enormous damage on their teeth and sensitive gum tissue.

The Effects of Bleachorexia

Teeth whitening treatments use a peroxide-based gel to chemically break down stains on your teeth. When used in moderation and under the supervision of your dentist, these products are quite safe and effective. However, the overuse of whitening products leads to a number of serious problems, including:

  • Enamel erosion: When used obsessively, eventually the whitening agents will start to wear away at the enamel of your teeth, increasing your risk of dental decay. Over time, your teeth will become brittle and start to wear away. Many patients addicted to whitening treatment must eventually have their teeth crowned.
  • Oral sensitivity: As you might imagine, this continual erosion of the dental structure can cause mild to severe pain. However, your teeth are not the only things that can be affected by the overuse of whitening agents. Your gums can become irritated, and you may feel a burning sensation in your soft palate and throat. You may also feel nauseous from breathing in the fumes of the whitening products.

Ironically, the overuse of whitening products will eventually make your teeth look less white. As your teeth erode, they will become translucent and will start to lose their natural sheen.

How Much Is Too Much?

Doctors say bleachorexics probably will not need to undergo extensive therapy to overcome their addiction. However, all cosmetic dentistry patients should have realistic expectations for their treatment. Perfection is impossible, and you will probably never attain a snow white smile. However, when you undergo whitening under the supervision of your cosmetic dentist, you can still attain a whiter, sparkling smile. Typically, you can undergo supervised touch-up treatments approximately every six months. While your smile may not be the “perfect” shade, it will still be white, natural, and – above all – healthy. Isn’t that the most important part of dentistry, anyway?

About Dr. Gennero

Dr. Deborah Gennero is an experienced cosmetic dentist who puts the safety and health of her patients before everything else. She offers a range of cosmetic treatments, including whitening, bonding, veneers, and more. Call (281) 578-6200 today to schedule your appointment. Dr. Gennero treats patients in Houston, Katy, the Woodlands, Clear Lake, Sugarland, and the surrounding areas.