Tooth-bleaching systems may weaken enamel

By Tom Nordlie • Published: July 29th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Want a dazzling smile? A tooth-whitening system might help you get one.

But a new study suggests there may be a downside to making your teeth look great.

An article published in the Journal of Dentistry showed that several bleaching systems reduced the hardness and elasticity of tooth enamel.

That’s the tough, mineralized coating on the outer surfaces of teeth.

Weakened enamel can make teeth more vulnerable to decay.

In the study, researchers used fifty-five samples from real human molars.

Five were used as control samples and weren’t whitened.

The rest were divided into groups of ten. Each group was subjected to one of five popular whitening systems.

Each group was cycled through one treatment regimen according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When they weren’t being whitened, the samples were stored in artificial saliva.

Researchers used a special instrument to make tiny indentations in the enamel.

The results showed that whitened teeth were less able to take punishment, compared with control samples.

We should note that previous studies have yielded conflicting results… some showed whitened teeth were weaker, others didn’t.

Also, previous studies indicate that enamel weakness can be reduced with fluoride treatments.

So the current study may not give a definitive answer.

Still, if you’re thinking about sprucing up your smile, it’s a good idea to discuss things with your dentist.

She can explain your options, and describe the pros and cons of each one.

That way, you can make an informed decision about whether to whiten.