Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dangers of Whitening Toothpaste

A patient came in about a month or so ago, having sensitivity to cold on several upper and lower teeth.  The symptoms started roughly about one year ago. One dentist had recommended doing fillings on several teeth, while another even recommended a root canal and replacing several fillings. Looking for a third and final opinion the patient sought out my services. After x-rays and several tests, I determined that no fillings or root canals were necessary. I advised the patient to stop using any form of whitening toothpaste and prescribed a medicated paste to apply daily for a few weeks. On their follow-up appointment, the patient no longer had any more symptoms of sensitivity. They were thankful that I had saved them a lot of money by not doing any fillings. My response was, “Money you can always replace, but tooth structure cannot be replaced once they have been drilled on. While I’m happy you saved some money, I feel even better that you were able to save your tooth structure.”

So how was I able to determine that there was no need for fillings or even a root canal? The tests and x-rays did not show decay or faulty fillings and after conversing with the patient, I discovered that they had been using a new whitening toothpaste for about one and a half years. I could not be certain that this was the main cause of the patient’s problems, but from my past experience with many other patients having similar symptoms, I decided to proceed with stopping the usage of all whitening products and to prescribe the medicated paste. And just like many of my other patients the problem was solved.

I find that, with the on-going trend of desiring whiter teeth, a craze for whitening products is developing – everything from over the counter take home kits to special whitening toothpastes. Many patients have been experiencing sensitivity to cold after using these products. Most of these patients have less dense or thinner enamel and the chemicals that manufacturers use to whiten teeth are in essence damaging the tooth structure. These same chemicals have been modified by various companies and are now being used in all whitening toothpastes. Luckily if caught in time, these symptoms are reversible by following some simple protocols. It makes me wonder sometimes, what will happen in the future as more and more of these cases become more prevalent? Slowly I am seeing the number of whitening toothpastes increase in the market, while the number of regular toothpastes diminish.