Wednesday, August 23, 2017

NPR Discusses the "Aisle of Confusion" to Whiten Your Teeth

ADA Seal.jpeg
Recently National Public Radio had a nice article and podcast on tooth bleaching.  Worldwide, the tooth whitening market is a $3.2 billion industry.  That’s right 3.2 billion (with a B) and… the market continues to grow year after year.
As you probably remember, last week (Thursday to be precise), I wrote a post about the crazy and misinformed fad of using charcoal in a toothpaste to lighten your natural tooth shade.  My concern with the tooth whitening market in general is that, here in America, the FDA does not consider the chemistry that whitens teeth to be a drug.  Instead, they classify the procedure and chemistries as “cosmetic” and that means that FDA monitoring is much, much less.
Why should I care whether this category is considered a drug or cosmetic?  The short answer is:  classifying as a cosmetic allows lots of unsavory people the opportunity to sell “snake oil” products that at best do nothing, but at worst, cause harm.  Many OTC products can thin the enamel (like charcoal), burn the sensitive gum tissues, or cause severe pain and sensitivity.  Sometimes pain and sensitivity can last for extended amounts of time.  And, if you damage the gum tissue with a severe chemical burn, there is a risk that the tissue could change contour causing the appearance of the smile to be affected.
P.T. Barnum said “there’s a sucker born every minute” and I’m afraid when it comes to get rich quick or get beautiful quick and cheap, he may have underestimated.  Every day lots of people spend their hard earned money and place their trust (as well as their oral health) into the hands of those who’s sole concern is profit.  Selling things that don’t work to people that truly would like help is a terrible thing to do.
What is the answer to this?  Well the first rule I would say is:  If something seems too good to be true, it is.  Don’t get pulled into the con.  The other options are to buy products over the counter that have the ADA Seal on them, as they have been tested to be safe and effective OR see your dentist and talk to them about the options that are right for you.
Obviously I’m going to be a fan of the “see your dentist” option.  I’ve got years of experience and have studied to learn a lot about whitening agents.  I’ve seen and helped a lot of people get the smile of their dreams.  I really love that part of my job and I really love helping people get the smile they’ve always dreamed of.
However, if seeing a dentist is not possible for you, please use an ADA Seal product.  Risking the health of your smile to save a few dollars is simply not worth it.  To read the article at NPR, which I think does a really nice job, here is the link.  

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