Since getting my braces off I’ve used Crest Whitestrips once or twice a month, and I’ve noticed a significant difference. Whitestrips are significantly cheaper than whitening treatments offered by my dentist, and I’ve been pleased with the results. According to the Crest website, their Whitestrips are “thin, flexible strips that are coated with a tooth whitening gel containing peroxide.” After reading this article, with the subtitle “Bleaching your teeth to make them whiter could turn them into mush,” I was prompted to find out more about the risks associated with whitening.
The article that initially sparked my interest on the safety of teeth whitening, by Livia Gamble, said two main side effects are gum irritation and teeth sensitivity, two side effects I’ve never experienced. The article focused who whiten on a daily basis, which explains why I have not experienced those side effects. Additionally, there was no scientific backing to the claim that whitening will in fact turn teeth to mush.
So what’s the harm? Crest Whitestrips come with specific instructions on the duration and frequency of usage, and their website has a detailed Q&A answering any and all questions related to whitening. Risk= exposure x hazard. As we discussed in class, the risk associated with an event is the likeliness it will occur multiplied by how bad it is. In the case of whitening strips, the exposure is low if you follow the directions. Additionally, the hazard is low. The American Dental Association says adverse side effects associated with whitening go away if you stop whitening.
Another article by How Stuff Works compared teeth bleaching to hair bleaching. When people over bleach their hair, it become thin and brittle. Similarly, excessive whitening can cause tooth enamel to break down. In this case, both the exposure and hazard to risk are high. Although this won’t turn teeth to mush, eroded enamel makes teeth more prone to cavities and decay, according to WebMD.
So what does this all mean? Based on my knowledge and understanding of risk, there is no reason to stop using Crest Whitestrips. By following the directions I am minimizing my risk of side effects while capitalizing on the benefits of whitening my teeth. It’s as simple as following the directions.