Do you know the risks of home whitening?
Perils of DIY Teeth Whitening
The internet is full of articles about how to whiten your teeth with “homemade,” “natural,” or “DIY” concoctions. Some of these whitening methods are, at best, benign, while others can be, at worst, dangerous.
The best way to avoid the perils of DIY teeth whitening is not to utilize homemade solutions or recipes. Attempting to whiten your teeth with non-approved, non-professional products or supervision may result in chemical burns to your gums and/or permanent tooth damage. It is also important to note that many of the most popular store-bought at-home teeth whitening kits are dangerous when improperly administered.
DIY Teeth Whitening: Safe or Scary?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to clean the surface stains off your teeth and brighten your smile. However, although at-home DIY teeth whitening methods are alluring as they promise to brighten your teeth inexpensively, there is often vital information that the proponents of DIY teeth whitening seem to omit. Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. So, before you try any of the techniques suggested on your Tik Tok, Insta, or in glossy magazines, we urge you to learn about the risks and talk to your dentist.
Five Internet Teeth Whitening Suggestions to Avoid:
- Baking soda as toothpaste
- Charcoal and charcoal-based cleaners
- Commercial teeth whitening kits (not all are dangerous)
- Citric acid
- Hydrogen peroxide
Don’t Use Baking Soda to Make Homemade Toothpaste
Many articles suggest that because baking soda is utilized in commercial dental care products, the store-bought form is safe to use in homemade toothpaste. However, baking soda is a strong abrasive, and when used in the wrong composition, can severely irritate the gum tissue, strip the enamel from your teeth, and weaken the enamel over time.
Enamel is the protective layer on the surface of your teeth that acts like a shell, but there is only so much abrasion that your enamel can take from brushing, especially with baking soda, before it wears away. Note that enamel does not ‘grow’ back; once it is gone, you lose that protection and are at risk of discoloration, developing cavities, gum disease, and recession.
Charcoal and Charcoal-Based Cleaners are Abrasive
Charcoal is also a popular teeth whitening product as promoted online, but it presents the same risks as baking soda. Charcoal-based teeth cleaning and whitening products work by scrubbing the stains from your teeth simultaneously with your enamel layer. Immediately after using charcoal for teeth whitening, you may see results. However, new stains will appear as soon as you drink or eat anything with any color, like red wine or coffee. Over time, your tooth enamel will disappear, and surface stains will more readily appear, becoming more difficult to remove. Again, once your enamel is gone, it doesn’t come back.
Commercial Teeth Whitening Kits Can Do More Harm Than Good
Although many of the over-the-counter whitening kits, gels, pens, and strips are effective and can make a difference safely, it’s prudent to note that those same packages can be dangerous if misused. These same products can result in mismatched coloration between the surface of teeth and crevices between teeth, burns, and even painful sensitivity.
It’s important to note that even though they may look the same as the kit at your dentist’s office, commercial (over-the-counter) products contain a lower amount of the active whitening ingredient (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). It is lower as there is no professional dental direction. Even a lower concentration of the active agent can be harmful to your gums and soft tissue if misused. Even when the consumer strictly follows the instructions and safety precautions for store-bought whitening products, it is often difficult to refrain from making contact with your gums, lips, cheeks, etc., which can invariably cause serious issues.
Proponents of using lemons, strawberries, or pineapple proclaim that citric acid can whiten teeth. Again, any acid that is in contact with your teeth for a prolonged period can soften enamel and cause alternate damage. On the other hand, you don’t have to avoid eating foods with citric for fear of enamel loss, but with acidic foods, it is important to moderate consumption. The best way to keep your enamel safe is by washing down highly acidic foods with a drink of water. Enjoy your snack, rinse after, and don’t use your favorite fruit to brighten your smile.
Regular Hydrogen Peroxide is Not Mouthwash or Effective for Teeth Whitening
Hydrogen peroxide is a common ingredient in dental care products, and your dentist might have told you about the importance of getting an in-office hydrogen peroxide treatment. None of that, however, suggests that you should rinse your mouth with hydrogen peroxide from the local drugstore. Your dentist uses a different hydrogen peroxide concentration than is available over the counter. And, in fact, it is more likely to cause gum irritation than to have a whitening effect.
Now That You Know the Risks of DIY Teeth Whitening
The best way to brighten your smile safely from the comfort of your home is to be consistent with your oral hygiene routine and ask your dentist. For your daily dental care, begin by flossing, then brush, and end with mouthwash. Brush twice, rinse after meals and snacks, and floss once a day. You can also swish a fluoridated mouthwash for 30 seconds and refrain from eating or drinking for a half-hour afterward for additional care.
Professional teeth whitening treatments can take as little as an hour and brighten your smile up to eight shades in a single session. Call our office for additional details or to schedule an appointment.