Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic dental treatment today. And no wonder, as people associate white smiles with celebrities, health, and beauty. No doubt this explains the proliferation of teeth whitening DIY methods. Have you found yourself reading up on all the magical home remedies to make your teeth “snow white” on Pinterest? It’s understandable.
- “I don’t have time to go to the dentist.”
- “I want whiter teeth naturally without harsh chemicals.”
- “It’s too expensive!”
But are any do-it-yourself teeth whitening methods effective? Or could you be damaging your teeth?
Before teeth whitening DIY, teeth whitening 101
Before we get into the teeth whitening myths, it is beneficial to learn about the anatomy of teeth to understand how teeth are bleached.
Your teeth have a strong, but thin protective layer called enamel. This material protects your teeth from the next, softer, yellow layer called dentin.
Although enamel is harder than bone, it can wear away by exposure to sugary and acidic foods or overactive brushing. Once lost, it’s impossible for your body to make new enamel. The thinner your enamel, the more yellow your teeth will appear as the dentin starts to show through.
- Your enamel is precious but not indestructible.
- Strong, thick, clean enamel = white teeth.
Can fruit whiten teeth?
THE CLAIM: Rub crushed strawberries or banana peels on your teeth for two minutes. Or brush with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
THE TRUTH: Acid destroys enamel.
All these recommended foods are highly acidic. Although it may appear effectual at first, with continued use, the acid will soften your enamel. Especially if you brush too soon after, you will wear away the part of your teeth that makes them white – your precious enamel.
Can you whiten your teeth with baking soda or charcoal?
THE CLAIM: Apply activated charcoal to your teeth and brush in gentle circles for two minutes. Make a baking soda paste and brush your teeth with it once a week for two months.
THE TRUTH: Over-abrasive substances destroy enamel.
- Charcoal is highly abrasive and can wear away your enamel. According to a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association, there is insufficient evidence of the safety and efficiency claims of charcoal for oral use.
- While baking soda may not be as abrasive to enamel, if you have receding gums, it can wear soft areas of teeth that are exposed. It would be safer to use an ADA approved toothpaste with baking soda (as a side point, none of the kinds of toothpaste with baking soda are recommended by the ADA for stain removal).
What about whitening your teeth with coconut oil?
THE CLAIM: Swish coconut oil in your mouth (also known as “oil pulling”) for 10-20 minutes.
THE TRUTH: Although there may be other health benefits to oil pulling, there is no evidence to prove that coconut oil whitens teeth.
The benefits of professional whitening
The truth is teeth whitening DIY methods won’t give you the results you’re expecting. In fact, they may cost you more in the future when your teeth require dental fillings, periodontal gum treatment, or composite bonding to replace tooth enamel.
Here’s some good news!
Professional teeth whitening can give you the smile you’re imagining!
A cosmetic dentist can evaluate your teeth to determine the type of staining you have and recommend the best bleaching treatment. Even over the counter products can burn your gums if not applied correctly. Professional whitening is the safer choice with the best results.
Teeth whitening from your dentist is surprisingly affordable!
Don’t waste your money on treatments that don’t work. There are options to fit your budget. Your dentist may offer credit card or financing, an in-house discount plan, or even free whitening treatments with a cleaning.
Just because a teeth whitening DIY method is natural doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Do it yourself teeth whitening can actually do more harm than good. If you are averse or sensitive to chemicals, then prevention is your best method to a whiter smile.
Contact a dentist in your area to find out how you can improve your number one asset… your smile! Your smile team can discuss treatment and financing options to provide the dental care you deserve.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.