An estimated 25% of Americans suffer from xerostomia, or dry mouth, and the vast majority of cases can be traced to prescription medications such as antidepressants, painkillers and antihistamines. Most dentists believe that dry mouth is a significant contributor to tooth decay and bad breath, but experts have been undecided about the safety of tooth-whitening strips in those with the condition.
A Tufts University study seeking to determine the risks, if any, followed 40 participants who were asked to use either 10% hydrogen peroxide whitening strips or placebo strips for two weeks. The participants were all taking medications associated with dry mouth, which can cause a decrease in saliva that, according to some dentists, make whitening strips unsafe.
The results showed that the whitening strips were well tolerated, with some tooth sensitivity that isn’t uncommon to those without dry mouth.
“Tooth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic procedures, and for most individuals, the first step in aesthetic dentistry,” study author Dr. Athena S. Papas told Reuters. “This new clinical trial demonstrates that peroxide-based strip whitening can be a viable first step in aesthetic treatment” for those who have symptoms of dry mouth.
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