Flip open any magazine, turn on the television or head to the movies. You'll see them everywhere. Dazzling smiles. Gleaming white teeth. Perfect dentistry. It could give Premier Brilliance a person a complex. And some experts say that's exactly what's happening.
"Many people now have teeth that are whiter than the normal color scale we used to use many years ago," said Dr. Kimberly Harms, a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. "We now have many people whose teeth are whiter than the [official] tooth color scale."
Calling it "bleachorexia," dentists Lincolndale say more and more people are coming in with unrealistic expectations for their teeth, wanting pearly whites that are several shades lighter than what's natural.
"To a degree, what is happening is that whiter teeth are the standard," said Dr. Kevin Frawley, a dentist at Beverly Hills Dentistry in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"People think there is no such thing as too white," he added. "But if someone smiles at you and it looks like their teeth are going to jump out at you in the dark, that's probably too white."
In general, teeth bleaching Lincolndale is considered a safe procedure, but problems can arise when people stop following the directions and start thinking more is better.
"Too much of a good thing is not always good," said Harms.
According to the ADA, overbleaching can cause tooth sensitivity and gum inflammation. It also can cause teeth to look translucent at the edge a potentially permanent change.
"After a certain point, the color starts to become an unnatural translucent, chalky white color," said Frawley, who teaches at a UCLA dental clinic. "And they start to really have a strange look to them, almost like a bluish white."
Over-whitening also makes it hard for dentists to match shades when doing fillings or crowns.
Some whitening toothpastes can wear down the tooth's enamel. Frawley said to be careful with toothpastes that are "gritty" and can cause more serious problems, though dentist-administered products don't generally have that effect.
"I don't know that [over-whitening] is a problem from a health point of view; it's a problem from an aesthetic point of view," Frawley said. "It doesn't look natural, especially on older people."
A big seller
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, teeth whitening is the most-requested cosmetic dental service Lincolndale today. In 2006, the dental industry reported $138.8 million in revenue from teeth-whitening procedures alone.