Over time your teeth will become stained and discolored from food, beverages, and lifestyle habits. It’s normal for teeth to yellow and get stained over time, but those stains can leave you feeling self-conscious about your smile. If you want a brilliant white smile you may be tempted to try DIY teeth whitening to eliminate stains. Unfortunately, while cheap at home teeth whitening treatments may save you money, they can be costly to your oral health. Take a closer look at some of the most popular, and dangerous, DIY whitening practices.
Charcoal Toothpaste and Other Charcoal Products
One of the biggest trends in at home teeth whitening is using charcoal toothpaste or other charcoal products. The activated charcoal is supposed to draw those impurities out of your teeth and leave you with a whiter, brighter smile. Although it’s possible that charcoal toothpastes and other products may provide some whitening results, there is the risk of enamel abrasion, which means it cannot be deemed safe for use on your teeth by dentists. Once dental enamel is gone, it does not grow back. As more people jump on board the charcoal whitening train, today you can find more than 50 different charcoal toothpaste and powders available. However, none of these products have been given the American Dental Association’s seal of approval.
Using Baking Soda Toothpaste
Toothpastes that contain bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) are easy to find, and some people even try making their own baking soda toothpaste at home. Baking soda naturally whitens teeth, and most people do find that they see some short-term results. The problem with using baking soda is that is a mildly abrasive agent. If you use it on your teeth regularly, over time, it may begin to weaken your enamel, resulting in tooth sensitivity and increase your risk of dental cavities. Once your enamel is gone, it’s gone for good, so the safest choice for your teeth is to avoid over-the-counter and homemade toothpastes that use bicarbonate of soda.
Over-the-Counter Bleaching Kits
Walk down the oral care aisle at the store and you will see many at home teeth whitening bleaching kits. There’s a reason that the American Dental Association hasn’t approved any of the over-the-counter bleaching kits available today. Teeth whitening that is professionally done at a dentist office requires a consultation beforehand to ensure your dental health is efficient enough to take on a teeth whitening treatment. This is one of the reasons why at home kits are dangerous. If your mouth is not healthy when you use these kits, the bleach can cause serious problems. When bleach gets into the nerve chamber of your tooth through a cavity, filling, or crack, it can result in severe pain and require treatment by a dentist.
OTC Whitening Gels, Strips, and Pens
Over-the-counter gels, strips, and pens are also available for DIY teeth whitening. These products generally use some type of whitening gel that contains carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. One of the most significant problems with these home whitening methods is their uneven results. Strips are 2-D and don’t get into the curves between your teeth, and even gels and pens don’t make it easy to get those curves. This can leave your teeth looking whiter on the flat surfaces while still looking yellow around the edges. It becomes even more challenging to get the results you want if you have crooked teeth.
Although those gels, strips, and pens are readily available online and at local drugstores, they can be dangerous because it’s easy for the gel to come into contact with the tissues in your mouth. Gum irritation when using these home products is very common, and some users have found that these treatments leave white spots behind on their gums.
Lemon Juice and Other Citric-Based Solutions
Another common DIY whitening trend is to use lemon juice, or other citric based solutions to whiten your teeth. Sure, it’s all-natural, but you’re basically applying acid to your teeth. Although these natural, DIY solutions and pastes do offer some temporary results, the fruit acids will wear away your top layer of enamel. While it’s fine to eat your favorite acidic fruits, you should never apply them to your teeth for any length of time.
The Best Teeth Whitening Solution
Think carefully before you try the latest trends in DIY teeth whitening. Most DIY options haven’t been proven to provide results, and in many cases, they can do damage to your teeth. This is why if you feel self-conscious about the aesthetic appearance of your teeth, talk to your dentist. Going to your dentist is the best and safest teeth whitening solution available. Your dentist can help you determine whether you’re a good candidate for professional teeth whitening or other cosmetic procedures that can improve your smile. Most importantly, your dentist will ensure that you get the beautiful smile you want without compromising your oral health and cause damage to your teeth that may prove costly in the future.
Serving the North Raleigh area for 18 years, VP Dental is dedicated to treating each patient as an individual and focuses on total body health. The team stays current using the very latest in dental technology, wellness practices, and concierge dental care practices. Our goal is to create relationships that make people look and feel their best.