I’ve jokingly called my wife a teeth whitening addict, but I’m starting to worry that’s she’s getting out of hand with it. Don’t get me wrong, she has a beautiful smile- it’s one of the reasons she caught my eye. But, she really obsesses over it. About two years ago, she had in-office teeth whitening done, where they put her under the lights and everything. Right after it, she started using the take-home kit. When her take-home kit ran out of gel she switched to whitening strips. Now, she buys more gel every six months when she gets a checkup, and uses it right away, and then she uses the strips about once a month between visits. She started talking about going back in for another in-office teeth whitening procedure and I think it’s just nuts. I’m afraid she’s going to destroy her enamel and wind up with serious problems. Are my worries justified?
Andy G. – North Carolina
There are scenarios where excessive whitening treatments cause problems. This will manifest in graying or translucent teeth. Sometimes the teeth become more sensitive. Your wife is probably okay with the amount she’s using teeth whitening products. Some people do touch up every month or so, but these are usually people who do a lot of things that stain their teeth, like drink coffee daily or smoke. Most people only tend to want to boost their color after a year or so. Bear in mind, the gel she gets in the office is stronger than the over-the-counter stuff, so when she isn’t using that, it’s harder for her to achieve the shade she wants.
Your wife is likely okay with her current teeth whitening regimen. I say that because she’s seeing her dentist regularly. He’s examining her teeth and then approving the gel. He wouldn’t do that if she was in danger of over-whitening.
Some people do touch-ups every month or so, but these are usually people who do a lot of things that stain their teeth, like drink coffee daily or smoke. It’s more common to do a touch up once a year. The over-the-counter whitening she’s using isn’t very strong and not likely to do much.
On the other hand, she could be inadvertently sabotaging her own results. Teeth have microscopic holes in them, but they’re normally closed up. As part of the bleaching process those spaces open. It can take a few days to weeks for them to close up again. So, if she’s prone to doing things that stain (coffee, cola, wine, smoking), then the teeth will absorb the stains fairly easily right after treatment.
It will help if she avoids these type of staining materials for a short bit after she whitens.
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