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Teeth whitening products can do damage

Published On: Feb 03 2014 05:08:44 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 03 2014 07:02:14 PM EST

From the supermarket to your dentist's office, teeth brightening is big business.


What would you do for a whiter smile?

Some are lucky with naturally pearly whites, others have to resort to using whitening regimens that they may or may not be good candidates for. And some products may not offer the shinning results they promise. We looked deeper into teeth whitening and found out all that glitters isn't gold.

To bleach or not to bleach? It seems to be a common question among many who crave the celebrity smile. But is whitening right for everyone? Roanoke dentist, Dr. Paul Henny says that depends.

"Some people have a tendency to have real high levels of sensitivity with whitening. So those types of situations need to be managed and monitored," Henny said. "There are a lot variables in it and actually there's a number of different ways of whitening teeth today, so there's a certain decision that needs to be made."

From the supermarket to your dentist's office, teeth brightening is big business. Crest kits can cost anywhere from $15 to $50. Heading to the dentist will cost in the hundreds. Eva Brown chose to give the store-bought strips a go.

"It had toothpaste, it had a mouth rinse and some Crest strips with it," Brown said.

Brown says she didn't overuse the products, which promise a whiter smile in just days. She only used the system for the recommended two weeks. What she saw afterwards scared her.

"My teeth did get whiter but they also got clearer and ended up almost with almost what was like a gray result," Brown said.

She also had terrible tooth sensitivity. Experts agree that adverse effects, even from a short period of use, can happen.

"Sensitivity with bleaching is not uncommon,” Henny said. “When you're using an over-the-counter product like white strips, some of that material can get on your gum tissue and exposed root surfaces."

Patients also have to worry about damaging roots, teeth discoloration and worse, becoming addicted to the results.

"They're almost obsessed with trying to get their teeth whiter and whiter," Henny said.

Those are risks Brown wished she had known before taking her dental goals into her own hands.

"I did not consider professional whitening at all," she said. “I did not talk to him about it whatsoever. I wish I had."

Dr. Henny sees patients all the time who want to achieve the smile of their dreams, but not all can achieve that.

"There are some people that are just simply prone to being sensitive because of the way the anatomy of their teeth is, because they have gum recession or they have thin enamel,” Henny said.

Brown may fall into one of those categories. Still, she's worried to try the procedure again.

"If I ever did consider I would definitely only have a dentist do it," Brown said.

Dr. Henny agrees. If you're a good candidate, which only your dentist can determine, the benefits are clear.

"The advantages are obvious in that they'll look a lot better, and in some cases, pretty dramatically lighter. So a lot of people will not only look better but feel better about themselves," Henny said.

And there are several options available.

"We have a take-home system where the people can wear custom trays, in some other cases, really the majority of cases these days, we do an in-office light assisted system," Henny said.

Dr. Henny adds that there are some teeth that can't be bleached like veneers, crowns and other dental work.

In-house whitening procedures like Zoom or Brite Smile are investments.

They can cost anywhere from $400 to $600 per session.

The best advice before starting any whitening regimen is to contact your dentist.