ONE OF THE UK’s top cosmetic dentists has warned that the obsession for white teeth can be an indicator of a form of body dysmorphia.
A preoccupation with the colour of teeth is commonly recognised as a symptom of BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), a psychological condition where sufferers are fixated about certain aspects of their appearance.
And Dr Ken Harris, of Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry, which has surgeries in both Sunderland and Newcastle, warns that those desperate for bright white teeth should steer clear of using home treatments or the excessive use of whitening toothpastes which can leave them with severe dental problems.
“Whitening toothpastes do not work,” said Dr Harris.
“They clean off surface stains but do not touch ugly deep staining and they are also very abrasive so can wear the enamel off teeth, causing significant damage.”
Dr Harris added that people obsessed with having perfect white teeth often use abrasive pastes and brush aggressively, which can lead to damage.
“No amount of tooth brushing can whiten teeth,” he said.
The abrasive nature of toothpaste is measured by RDA – Relative Dentine Abrasivity – and in 2012 the British Dental Journal said that toothpastes with an RDA of more than 100 were considered abrasive and could damage teeth and gums.
A number of popular whitening toothpastes on the market have an RDA in excess of 100 so are leaving people in danger of potentially damaging their teeth.
Dr Harris said that many people also try to use a variety of substances ranging from lemons to strawberries in the belief their teeth will get whiter.
“None of these processes work,” he said.
“The best way to get a proper and safe whitening treatment is to see a dentist, not attempt it on your own.
“A dentist will also give proper advice on what is suitable and what isn’t, rather than people buying treatments off the internet which simply won’t work, and may even be harmful.”
Dr Harris added that teeth get more yellow with age and trying to combat this with excessive brushing or whitening toothpaste will, again, just not work.
“The dentine beneath our enamel becomes tougher and more dense over the years, and, as such, it gradually becomes darker in colour,” he said.
“Dentine is the part of the tooth beneath the outer enamel layer of teeth and therefore can not be reached by toothpaste or brushing.
“The only way to whiten teeth is to get the bleach to soak through the enamel into the deeper dentine where it will do its job.”
Multi-award winner Dr Harris is respected across the globe for his expansive knowledge on cosmetic dentistry and he regularly teaches around the world.
He is one of only two Fellows of the British Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry (BACD) which involves him teaching other dentists around the UK. He is a full member of the British Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry (BAAD), and regularly teaches USA dentists at the world-renowned Kois Center programme across in Seattle.
He regularly travels across to North America and Canada, delivering lectures on aesthetic dentistry to practitioners in New York, Vancouver, San Francisco, Orange County, Fresno and San Diego in his role as the Clinical Director for California Center (sic) for Advanced Dental Studies.
His award-winning team also provides general dentistry. For further information visit www.riveredge.co.uk