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- Category: Dentistry
What is bleachorexia?
Everyone is familiar with the term ‘anorexia’. Anorexia is a type of body dysmorphic disorder, which is where the sufferer is obsessed with their appearance. People with a body dysmorphic disorder imagine they have defects that aren’t really there, such as excess fat.
In recent years, people have used the suffix -rexia to coin new words such as tanorexia (an obsession with tanning), yogarexia (an obsession with yoga) and bleachorexia (an obsession with teeth bleaching). These words might sound like jokes, but they are real problems for some people. Bleachorexia, for example, can cause people to over-bleach their teeth, which in turn can damage their enamel.
Why do people bleach their teeth?
As we get older, our teeth become yellower due to the natural wearing down of enamel. People can counteract this effect with two treatments: teeth whitening and teeth bleaching. Whitening is the restoration of a tooth’s natural colour, while bleaching is the use of bleach to whiten teeth beyond their natural colour.
Bleaching has become a huge industry in recent years. People now have more bleaching options than ever: strips, pens, gels, and lasers. People also have the option of bleaching their teeth at home instead of going to the dentist.
The recent bleaching craze is partly due to models and celebrities with shiny white teeth. People want megawatt shiny teeth so they can emulate their favourite celebrities. Ironically, most celebrities actually use veneers (fake teeth stuck to the front of their actual teeth) instead of bleach!
Is bleachorexia dangerous?
It’s normal to want to look good, but there comes a point when whitening treatments do more harm than good. This is because bleaching products often contain peroxide, which is a substance that erodes enamel. Loss of enamel is bad because it can make your teeth very sensitive and more prone to tooth decay. Furthermore, once enamel has gone, it’s gone for good. In extreme cases, over-bleaching can damage nerves and require root canals.
What can I do to prevent over-bleaching?
To prevent over-bleaching, limit your bleaching sessions to three to four times per year. This should be more than enough to keep your teeth white while avoiding the dangers of over-bleaching.
You can also reduce the need for bleaching treatments in the first place by avoiding things that cause stains. These include cigarettes, coffee, tea, red wine, curry, and pasta sauce.
Nowadays, certain sites sell ‘DIY whitening kits’ which circumvent the need for a dentist. However, we advise against going it alone. This is because the safest place to bleach is at your dentist’s. Dentists can perform a thorough examination and advise you on whether bleaching is the best course of treatment. A dentist will also warn you if you are bleaching your teeth too often.
We are experts in the safest possible teeth whitening methods. Book an appointment with us today to discuss your needs. And if you suspect someone you know is a ‘bleach junkie’, do encourage them to see a dentist before they do irreversible damage to their teeth.