I’ve jokingly call my wife a teeth whitening addict, but I’m starting to worry that’s she’s getting out of hand with it. Don’t get me wrong, she has a beautiful smile — it’s one of the reasons she caught my eye. But, she really obsesses over it. About two years ago, she had in-office teeth whitening done, where they put her under the lights and everything. Right after it, she started using the take-home kit. When her take-home kit ran out of gel, she switched to whitening strips. Now, she buys more gel every six months when she gets a checkup, and uses it right away, and then she uses the strips about once a month between visits. She started talking about going back in for another in-office teeth whitening procedure and I think it’s just nuts. I’m afraid she’s going to destroy her enamel and wind up with serious problems. Are my worries justified? — William
Your wife is probably ok with the amount she’s using teeth whitening products. Some people do touch up every month or so, but these are usually people who do a lot of things that stain their teeth, like drink coffee daily or smoke. Most people only tend to want to boost their color after a year or so. Bear in mind, the gel she gets in the office is stronger than the over-the-counter stuff, so when she isn’t using that, it’s harder for her to achieve the shade she wants.
Excessive treatments can cause problems, like translucent teeth or sensitivity. If she isn’t experiencing these issues and her dentist thinks her teeth are healthy enough for another round of in-office treatment, she should be good to go.
On the other hand, she could be inadvertently sabotaging her own results. Teeth have microscopic holes in them, but they’re normally closed up. As part of the bleaching process those spaces open. It can take a few days to weeks for them to close entirely up again. So, if she’s prone to doing things that stain (drink coffee, cola or wine or smoke), then the teeth will absorb the stains fairly easily right after treatment. If she can avoid these things, she’ll probably stay happier for longer. Regular brushing right after or even rinsing her mouth, can help slow down the staining process. Over time, her teeth will regain the stains, but her habits play a big role in how quickly this occurs.
The bottom line is that if she isn’t experiencing issues and her dentist has given her the green light, her current schedule is fine.