Do-It-Yourself Teeth Whitening is a Don’t!

Nowadays, it seems that you can figure out how to do everything yourself.  People tell stories of performing complicated tasks after doing some online research or watching a Youtube video.  In the days where everyone seems to be an expert, it can be difficult to know when you’re receiving good advice and when you could be placing yourself at risk for something dangerous.

That is exactly the case with DIY teeth whitening. 

Why DIY Teeth Whitening is a Don’t

When we say “DIY Teeth Whitening”, we are not talking about over-the-counter teeth whitening products.  In fact, you’ll see in a later section that we actually recommend OTC whitening in many cases.  When a whitening product carries the Seal of Acceptance by the American Dental Association, you can trust that it is safe and effective.

What we include in our version of “DIY Teeth Whitening” is homemade solutions using common household items that you apply to the teeth.  There are two reasons we strongly urge you to avoid these techniques.

1. It Could Damage Your Teeth.

Most of the homemade recipes for DIY teeth whitening include an ingredient that has the potential to cause severe damage to your enamel.  Ingredients such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and activated charcoal can actually remove enamel from the teeth through acid erosion or harsh abrasion.

Ironically, as the enamel becomes thinner, it makes the tooth look more yellow because the underlying dentin (which is slightly yellow) can show through more easily.  Once you lose enamel, you can suffer from sensitive teeth, and you may require expensive dental treatment to rebuild the teeth.

2. It Probably Won’t Work

Some home teeth whitening hacks use ingredients that are perfectly safe for the teeth, and they have no ability to change a tooth’s color.  This includes things like oil pulling with coconut oil or making homemade mouthwashes from essential oils.  As long as the ingredients do not include anything acidic in pH (like fruit juices) or abrasive (like gritty additives to homemade toothpaste), then they should not cause any damage to your teeth.

Unfortunately, they also do not have any ability to whiten the teeth, so we urge you not to waste your time with them.

What Should You Try Instead?

If you are looking for an affordable option for at-home teeth whitening, try an over-the-counter product.  There are many great products that are safe and do work.  Here’s a quick rundown:

Whitening Toothpastes

A whitening toothpaste is not a true teeth whitener.  It does improve the appearance of teeth by gently polishing away surface stains on the teeth.  When the teeth appear slightly yellow or dingy from frequent coffee intake (or any other food, beverage, or habit that stains the teeth), you can remove any superficial staining on the outermost layer of enamel with a whitening toothpaste.

Whitening toothpastes function through the use of mild abrasive particles in the toothpaste that gently scrub away surface stains, leaving a glossy shine on the teeth. 

As whitening toothpastes gain popularity, we notice that there are many available WITHOUT the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  Products that haven’t met this requirement yet are not recommended because they have not yet undergone and/or passed safety testing.  Make sure to read the label and look for the Seal!

Whitening Strips

Most people are familiar with Crest WhiteStrips, and many other similar products have followed in their footsteps.  We love whitening strips because not only do they contain the active ingredient necessary to actually change the color of the teeth.  They also use a method of application that is simple and effective.  The strips stick to the teeth so that you can keep them in place and allow them to work for 15-30 minutes (according to the package instructions). 

There are many different formulations of whitening strips containing varying levels of the active ingredient.  Make sure to find one carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance, and follow the instructions on the package closely.

Whitening Gel in Carrier Trays

You will also find products that use a generic mouth tray to “carry” whitening gel to the teeth.  While these do produce some result when the gel contains a peroxide chemical as the active ingredient, they may not be as effective because of a loose fit of the carrier tray.

The dental arch (the shape of all the teeth together in a jaw) varies widely in shape and size among adults.  For this reason, a one-size-fits-all tray really only fits a select few.  The problem with these is that a poorly fitting tray will not keep the whitening gel in contact with your teeth as it should.

Again, only choose one showing the ADA Seal of Acceptance to ensure safety.  If you begin using one of these products and suffer any uncomfortable side effects, make sure to talk to Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara or Dr. Summer about it. 

More Questions about Teeth Whitening?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with one of our awesome dentists.  You can also ask your dental hygienist about teeth whitening options when you have a professional teeth cleaning.  Our goal is for all of our patients to have a healthy smile that they love!

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