June 29, 2017
A common concern for many jof our patients is the shade of their teeth. Lately, I've been seeing a lot of DIY teeth whitening methods popping up, in large part due to YouTube. When considering whether a "white teeth hack" is something you want to try, I think it's important to ask whether there is adequate research to support it, what the potential damage is, and are there better alternatives. Here are some the ones I've been seeing and have been asked about lately.
-Charcoal: No research that I can find on it as a teeth whitening product. My concern is that the abrasiveness can cause irreversible damage by removing enamel. Once the enamel is gone, teeth are more prone to sensitivity, cavities, and the darker layer below enamel, dentin, will show through more, making the teeth appear less white. Enamel does not grow back and the only way to "replace" it is with a restoration, like white filling material or porcelain. Not to mention the mess it will likely make in your bathroom. The only positive I can see coming from it is making people brush their teeth so it doesn't look like they just ate charcoal.
-Oil Pulling: Again, limited research, which is a bit of a relief. I have a hard enough time convincing patients to floss for a minute a day, let alone trying to convince someone to swish coconut oil around for 20 minutes. If you're dying to incorporate swishing liquids in your mouth into your daily routine, there are plenty of ADA approved rinses, many of which are advertised as whitening rinses. While I don't necessarily think oil pulling is harmful, there are case reports of diarrhea and upset stomach. So pull with caution.
-Fruits like strawberries, oranges, and lemons: While natural and healthy for eating, exposing your teeth to citric acid wears away enamel and I wouldn't recommend it
-Baking soda & hydrogen peroxide: This is a DIY method I would actually approve of in moderation. Making a paste of baking soda & hydrogen peroxide (2 parts hydrogen peroxide to 1 part baking soda), you can brush it onto teeth. Baking soda has some whitening effects and is just abrasive enough to get rid of surface stains, allowing the hydrogen peroxide, the most common ingredient in whitening products, to penetrate and whiten teeth. I would be concerned with doing this every day, but I think a couple times a week is a cheap, easy way to improve your smile at home.
Ultimately the best way to whiten teeth are with the tried and true methods of preventing stains by avoiding things like coffee, tea, red wine, smoking. I love coffee and red wine too much to give them up for the sake of white teeth, so I try to brush my teeth after, or at least drink water or chew gum so that the staining agents don't sit on my teeth. Regular brushing and flossing will also get rid of food particles and bacteria that will cause staining the longer they stay on your teeth. There are plenty of good over-the-counter whitening products including toothpastes, gels, and strips. The American Dental Association just approved Crest 3D White Whitestrips Glamorous White, making it the first over-the-counter whitening to be approved by the ADA. We also offer profession at-home and in-office whitening products that will safely and effectively whiten your teeth. Check out the whitening section of our website or call us to know more!