Can Tooth Whitening Be Too White?

Can Tooth Whitening Be Too White?

Posted by Dental Didactics CE: Dental Board of California Registered CE Provider #RP3768, Academy of General Dentistry National PACE Provider #217643 on Sep 24th 2022

Tooth Whitening Making Teeth Too White:

The dental cosmetic market is currently flooded with over-the-counter (OTC) tooth whitening products. Patients (consumers) are offered numerous options for tooth whitening including gels, strips, rinses, lights, and activators, etc. These "at-home", "do-it-yourself" tooth whitening products are so ubiquitous and readily available because they are not- as most people assume- regulated by the FDA. They do not promise or provide any biological or physiological benefit, and are thus considered "cosmetics" as far as the federal government is concerned and do not have  

With their ready availability, relatively low cost, large advertising budgets, and in a culture emphasizing personal esthetics, these products are being frequently overused. Broadcasters and social media users frequently display images and hilarious memes of celebrities (most notably TV host Simon Cowell, and the Ross character from Friends) who have ridiculously over-bleached their teeth. Despite these exaggerated and non-esthetic results, dentists are still swamped with patients addicted to getting their teeth still another shade lighter.

Dental Ethics And Excessive Whitening:

Dental professionals, including dentists and dental hygienists, should have a distinct role in counselling their patients regarding what level of whitening looks natural and cosmetically enhancing, and where to draw the line when excessive whitening appears artificial and a cosmetic distraction. This is much the same role that plastic surgeons must fill when cosmetic surgery addicts demand additional lip injections or excessive procedures.

A good rule of thumb in dentistry is to counsel patients not to whiten their teeth beyond the shade of the whites of their eyes. This is especially true in older individuals who can appear quite unnatural when their teeth are over-bleached. Dentists and hygienists need to develop an esthetic eye to properly counsel patients regarding the ideal level of tooth whitening they should achieve for ideal esthetics.

Unfortunately, many patients do not accept the advice of dental professionals, or are misled by professionals who promote over-bleaching to develop a "Hollywood look", and end up with a very artificial appearance. For more information regarding bleaching refer to our CE course on Tooth Whitening