The dark side of teeth whitening

FRESNO, Calif.

At-home bleaching kits promise to get your teeth, super-white, but dentists are seeing patients who are hooked on it.

The hottest accessory on the red carpet is white.

Stars flash brilliant smiles, enhanced by professional whitening to keep their teeth camera-ready.

But anyone can get a celebrity smile at their dentist's office and at home.

Genna Lund greets her baby son Kaysen with a big smile every morning, but that's not the only routine for this 23-year-old Clovis wife and mom.

She wants to make sure the smile she flashes to her family, friends and co-workers is nearly perfect.

"Just like when you get in the shower, you wash your body, I get in the shower and put my bleach trays in and when I'm out by body's clean and my teeth are clean so it just becomes part of a normal, everyday habit," Lund said.

Genna says she used to whiten her teeth almost every day, but she took a break for a year while she was pregnant and nursing.

Now she bleaches her teeth once in a while at home.

Genna's dentist also keeps an eye on her because she's seen other patients who want to go whiter.

A condition, nicknamed in the dental industry as "bleachorexia": when teeth are never white enough.

Dr.Zaruhi Shahbazyan offers her patients, professional whitening in a controlled program.

Patients like Genna get a treatment every six months under a UV light that heightens the whitening effect.

Dr. Shahbazyan uses PolaOffice for her in-office whitening. It's similar to another popular product called Zoom. Dentists can control how often a patient comes in for an office treatment. What they can't control is how often a patient uses their home treatment, and overuse can lead to bleachorexia

"That can cause extreme sensitivity to the teeth, that can cause damage to the soft tissue, the gums, the soft palate of the oral cavity," Dr. Shahbazyan said.

Over-bleaching can also cause teeth to become translucent, and even strip away the protective enamel of the teeth.

Dentists say the easy access to bleaching products over the counter and online has led to a jump in bleachorexics.

Dr. Shahbazyan says people can need to follow the product directions and stop using it if it hurts.

"Patients need to watch how they do it, what products they are using. They need to make sure its ADA approved. Then need to make sure they're storing it correctly," she said.

Genna still uses her custom-made teeth trays with at-home bleaching gel, but she's scaled back her habit.

She doesn't want to damage the smile she's worked so hard keep white and bright.

"I feel like it just completes the look, having nice clean teeth," she said.

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