Bleachorexia: The Obsession with White Teeth

Bleachorexia is the obsession with white teeth. Why does it happen? Are there any risks? Find out in this article!
Bleachorexia: The Obsession with White Teeth

Last update: 12 July, 2021

Bleachorexia is an obsession with white teeth.

More and more people want to have a beautiful smile these days. Having straight white teeth is an aesthetic issue these days. Fashion, media, celebrities, and social networks enforce the message having to be attractive.

Being presentable isn’t always the issue; well-performed care and treatments, in addition to beauty, contribute to the health of our teeth. However, when the concern for maximum aesthetics is taken to the extreme, behaviors become dangerous.

Today’s article will discuss the causes of bleachorexia and the risks of this obsession.

What’s bleachorexia?

As we mentioned above, bleachorexia is the obsession with whiter teeth. People with this problem have the feeling that their teeth are too stained and thus, feel the need to whiten them often.

This alteration is psychological, and there’s a subjective appreciation of the appearance of the teeth. A person’s negative self-perception deeply affects their self-esteem.

However, the damage isn’t only mental and also affects the oral structures. People with this problem tend to bleach their teeth frequently. They resort to home methods and overly-use bleach agents without a dentists’ supervision.

Why do people like white teeth?

Some psychological aspects predispose some people to this disorder. However, some external factors that also lead to this phenomenon are:

  • Fashion. Celebrities often sport white teeth and so aspirational people imitate them. They don’t realize that trying to live up to the demands imposed by this fantasy world can give rise to this disorder.
  • Advertisement. There’s a bombardment about products that can easily whiten teeth. These are easy to acquire and companies market them for people’s consumption saying they don’t require professional supervision.
  • Ignorance of the risks. There’s misinformation regarding the dangers of using over-the-counter tooth whitening products without a dental prescription.
  • White teeth increase self-esteem. People with bright smiles feel more self-confident than those with crooked and stained teeth.
A comparison of whitened teeth.
Some teeth whitening treatments require professional supervision.

Why do teeth get stained?

Teeth stains are due to various reasons.

These intrinsic stains are the result of the use of some antibiotics, exposure to certain substances, or problems that occurred when the teeth were forming. They’re also caused by trauma or infections in the tooth and are more difficult to remove.

However, most of the dental stains are due to pigmentations produced by what the person eats and drinks. Colorful foods and beverages can stain the teeth, such as coffee, mate, tea, wine, blueberries, and tomato sauce. Also, smoking causes yellow teeth.

Beyond the cause of the stains, you must know that teeth aren’t actually white. In fact, the enamel that covers the crowns is clear and merely reveals the color of the dentin underneath. The shades of the dentin tissue are specific to each person and vary between yellow, brown, and subtle grays.

In addition, the age of the individual also influences dental appearance. It’s normal for young teeth to be lighter. In fact, they darken as the years go by.

Possible risks associated with bleachorexia

People with bleachorexia are never satisfied with the appearance of their teeth. Moreover, they perceive them as stained and dark and are usually dissatisfied with the results of the whitening treatment.

As you can imagine, they repeat them often, sometimes in professional offices, but at home most of the time. They may use bleaching, acidic or abrasive substances over and over again without realizing the risks.

Performing these treatments at home, either with natural remedies or with those purchased at a pharmacy, actually requires a professional evaluation. This is because using these substances on damaged teeth can further complicate oral health. In addition, the lack of precision in handling the products and time control is also risky.

Repeated use of acidic and abrasive substances or the permanence of these substances on the teeth for too long destroys the tooth tissues. For example, the use of hydrogen peroxide, bicarbonate, lemon, acidic fruits, and activated charcoal are some common household items that can greatly damage the enamel.

Teeth and mouth tissues excessively subjected to the action of bleaching substances may lead to some of these symptoms:

  • Gum irritation and gingivitis
  • Dental hypersensitivity
  • Demineralization of the enamel
  • Taste alterations
  • Pulp necrosis
  • Tooth loss

Tips to avoid bleachorexia

Professional treatment is appropriate when the origin of bleachorexia is psychological. Also, here are some recommendations to reduce the risk:

  • You must be realistic, the white teeth of celebrities aren’t natural or healthy. Accepting the natural coloration of your teeth is fundamental so tone down your false expectations regarding the results of whitening treatments.
  • Assume the causes by realizing that teeth stains are due to age and the consumption of certain products. You cannot dream of a white smile without being willing to quit smoking, minimize the consumption of pigmenting beverages or brush them after their consumption.
  • Be wary of advertisements, products, and remedies that promise great results as they may not be safe.
  • Putting certain substances in your mouth is dangerous and counterproductive. Know that acids and abrasives can damage enamel and gums.
  • Respect the time between treatments as the products used for this purpose are aggressive to oral tissues. Thus, using them repeatedly is harmful to the oral cavity. Your dentist can advise you on the appropriate time to wait before repeating the treatment.
  • Have the treatments done by a qualified dentist, they’ll only use safe products. They’ll also evaluate the general condition of your mouth and also diagnose and treat any other condition you might have and choose the best option for you.
A man undergoing a whitening treatment.
Dental professionals should know the most effective approach for every case.

Recommendations for healthy teeth

You’ve already read how an overly white smile isn’t necessarily synonymous with oral health. So you should know that obsessing over the appearance of your teeth can be harmful.

Therefore, beyond the color of the teeth, it’s important to commit to maintaining a healthy oral cavity by maintaining proper oral hygiene.

To do so, brush all surfaces of all dental elements three times a day with a soft bristle brush and toothpaste. In addition, complement it with dental floss and mouthwash.

Regular and frequent visits to the dentist are also essential. Professionals can diagnose and treat any problems that might arise early. In addition, they’ll do a dental cleaning and any other applications you might need to control the proliferation of bacteria, improve the appearance of the smile and protect your mouth.

A varied and nutritious diet and low consumption of foods rich in sugar will help you maintain good oral health. Not smoking and reducing your consumption of those products that stain teeth improves the appearance of your smile. In addition, you must brush your teeth after eating and drinking.

Following the aforementioned advice will help you maintain a beautiful smile. Opt for health over aesthetics by accepting the natural color of your teeth. Remember, keeping them healthy is what matters the most!

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