Today, there are adverts for what we portray as perfect teeth everywhere you turn. If these campaigns or your favourite celebrity are anything to go by, the ideal smile consists of bright, white sparkling teeth. This sentiment is quickly catching on and spreading the desire so far and wide that teeth whitening is now one of the most sought-after cosmetic treatments in use today.
Even as more people seek that sparkling smile, there is one significant possible side effect of teeth whitening that you must be aware of: gum recession.
First, What is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening denotes the process where a dentist cleans your teeth enamel to eliminate any traces of staining or discolouration. In this instance, where a professional performs the procedure, they use a specially formulated whitening gel that consists of 40% hydrogen peroxide. The dentist applies this gel onto your teeth before shining a special lamp on them.
Alternatively, you may opt to whiten your teeth at home. In that case, you may use whitening varieties of toothpaste or home whitening kits that are sold over the counter in stores. The kits come with a gel of their own, although it is not as strong as the type used in dentists’ offices.
Unfortunately, the use of whitening gel, which contains hydrogen peroxide as the primary bleaching agent, to whiten teeth also exposes your gums to the chemical, with adverse effects. Once it comes into contact with the gums, the peroxide causes irritation. This effect becomes evident when you experience a burning sensation during and after the procedure.
Once the caustic chemical begins interacting with your gums, you may observe some symptoms, including:
- Significant inflammation
- White spots on your gums
- Eventual infection
Eventually, the primary symptoms above will weaken your gums. Thus, along with the infection, your compromised gums will start receding.
Conversely, if you already have receding gums, you are advised to avoid seeking any teeth whitening procedures altogether. The primary reason is the high risk of infection that such a process presents, particularly when your gums are not at optimum health.
Receding gums expose the more vulnerable parts of your teeth, which the enamel doesn’t cover. Therefore, forging ahead and applying a strong chemical like a whitening agent will exacerbate any problems you had before. In addition, the peroxide will make the roots thinner while increasing sensitivity and risk of tooth decay at the same time.
How Can You Avoid Receding Gums?
The first option lies in steering clear of home whitening kits. Making tooth whitening a DIY project exposes you to any number of mistakes you may make with your inexperience. The top among these is exposing your gums to the harmful whitening agents, which will then cause them to start receding. Conversely, when you choose to have the procedure performed by a dentist, there is less risk of injury because they have their professional know-how and experience to guide them.
If you already have symptoms of gum recession, it is best to seek professional advice. Your dentist is better positioned to give more insight into treatment options like gum graft surgery, pinhole surgical technique and scaling and root planing that may help you heal your gums over time.
Your gums require as much care as all other parts of your mouth. So before you begin your teeth whitening journey, make a dentist’s appointment to ensure that your gums are in good health. Furthermore, it may be best to allow them to perform the whitening procedure for you. That way, you avoid any adverse outcomes which may have occurred otherwise.