Teeth whitening has been one of the most requested dental procedures since the 1980s. With the rise of the internet, DIY teeth whitening methods to achieve the perfect Hollywood smile circulate on social media, without having been tested by dental health professionals. Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of people unknowingly damaging their teeth.
At Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, we want to educate the public about potentially harmful or ineffective methods of natural teeth whitening. Here are some myths to be aware of before you try to whiten your teeth at home.
1. You can whiten your teeth safely with household staples
One of the first myths about teeth whitening at home is that using household staples and foods is a completely safe method to achieve a pearly white smile.
Some claim that rubbing acidic fruits like lemons or strawberries on the teeth breaks down surface-level stains to make teeth appear whiter. While this natural method may cause a minimal whitening effect, it is not at all worth the damage it could cause over time. The natural acids found in these fruits can break down your enamel, your tooth’s thin outer coating.
Others swear by scrubbing baking soda on their teeth directly. Although baking soda is great for removing surface-level stains on other surfaces, the powder scrubs away your tooth enamel and disrupts the balance of good bacteria in your mouth, causing irreparable damage. Mixing acidic fruits like strawberries with baking soda can cause even more damage to your enamel.
As your tooth enamel breaks down, a deeper layer of the tooth, called dentin, becomes exposed. As more dentin is exposed, your teeth appear more yellow. Enamel does not grow back. Once your dentin is exposed, there are no whitening products or procedures to get your teeth back to their pearly white standard.
Exposed dentin isn’t just a superficial issue. Missing tooth enamel also makes your teeth more fragile and puts you at a higher risk for sensitivity, cavities, and decay.
If you want to whiten your teeth at home, use teeth-whitening toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association. Avoid at-home whitening strips, as these have high levels of hydrogen peroxide that can wear down and damage enamel.
Talk to Dr. Owens about in-office whitening solution or dentist approved at-home kits that are safe for your teeth. Our take-home trays are custom-fitted to your mouth to protect your teeth and gums from damage.
2. Oil pulling is a proven whitening and anti-bacterial agent
The oil pulling method stems from natural Ayurvedic medicine. Celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow claim it’s how they have maintained their white teeth for years.
The alternative medicine method consists of swishing a tablespoon of oil, generally coconut or olive oil, for around 20 minutes each morning. The oil is believed to remove harmful bacterias and surface stains.
Unfortunately, oil pulling’s whitening and anti-bacterial properties have never been confirmed by scientific studies. Swishing anything – oil, water, or mouthwash – can dislodge bacteria or debris, so teeth may appear cleaner or whiter. This is not evidence to support that oil pulling itself is an effective method to achieve whiter teeth.
3. Active charcoal products whiten teeth
As the general public turned towards natural medicine, alternative active charcoal toothpaste and powders became the newest whitening fad on the internet.
According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, there is no scientific evidence that shows brushing your teeth with active charcoal products causes any whitening effects.
How to Whiten Your Teeth Effectively
The Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry team is committed to finding the best whitening treatment for your unique smile and oral health. We will advise you regarding your dental hygiene, the prevention of tooth discoloration, and which tooth whitening methods are best suited to your situation and how you envision your perfect smile.
Over-the-counter products can be effective over time. However, they will never have the same results as professional whitening treatments containing higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and similar bleaching agents. To penetrate the deeper layers in your teeth and alleviate stubborn stains or discoloration, we offer in-office ZOOM! whitening treatments, as well as whitening gels for a comfortable treatment at home.
As one of the leading teeth whitening dentists in Michigan, our team is dedicated to helping you achieve the beautiful smile you have always dreamed about. Contact us at (248)-716-8623 to discuss your teeth whitening journey and to schedule a smile makeover consultation.