Bleachorexia: A New Cosmetic Disorder

Author: Dental Geek
09.15.11 / 4:56 pm

Lately, the media has been focusing attention on a new and unhealthy cosmetic obsession. Many people are now suffering from something dubbed “bleachorexia,” or overly bleaching teeth to get the bright, pearly color that will create a youthful and gorgeous smile. These people, who are also known as “bleach junkies,” sometimes go so far as eroding all of their enamel.

The fixation on having white teeth is not a new trend. The teeth whitening industry is estimated to bring in a billion dollars per year from over-the-counter products such as mouthwash and toothpaste. Mall kiosks now serve as teeth whitening stations, and there are plenty of at-home teeth whitening kits on the market. With so many products available that can easily be abused and the lax FDA regulations, it’s no wonder people are routinely going above and beyond a healthy whitening process.

Recently, a North Carolina court found the NC State Board of Dental Examiners guilty of anticompetitive behavior when they issued letters to non-dentists performing teeth whitening procedures, such as the ones in mall kiosks. Despite the fact that an alleged motivating factor may be profits, the dental board did have a point. In the letter, the board maintained that teeth whitening should be a process administrated by dentists. They claimed that mall kiosk employees did not wear latex gloves when performing the procedures, which were conducted nowhere near running water. As a result, public safety was put into question. However, the courts ruled that the North Carolina State Board did not have the authority to issue these cease and desist letters as if they were law enforcers. The board plans to appeal the decision.

As usual, many blame the media for promoting an unrealistic and unattainable image for consumers to strive for. Celebrities’ images consist of veneers or overly Photoshopped pictures that give the impression of the perfect smile. However, I have never been a fan of blaming the media for the bad and unhealthy habits of the public. Yes, the media may influence the standard, but people still have a choice in what they do to their bodies.

Is having your teeth white so important that you end up looking like this?








Sara Jablow, Lanmark360 Intern

Dental Geek

Dental Geek

3 responses to “Bleachorexia: A New Cosmetic Disorder”

  1. Nice blog Katherine…you can write, that’s something this profession needs. You make some very good points about bleaching, but more importantly our culture. Health professions in general have become quite lax in monitoring certain procedures. It doesn’t stop with bleaching. This goes back to the eighties when marketers took over the professions. Teeth whitening and cosmetic dentistry have great mass marketing appeal (there’s lot of money there), so marketers (what you are calling the media), have really pumped up the desire, and even created a false standard for what is truly esthetic.
    Please visit the last 3 blog posts on for a similar discussion.
    Barry Polansky

  2. Hi Barry,

    Thanks for the comment! We’re glad you enjoyed the post, but just wanted to clarify that it was Sara Jablow who wrote this. We will make sure to check out, and again, thanks for writing!

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