For a lot of people looking to whiten their teeth, they find the strips and gels and paints too damaging and painful. You don’t need to have sensitive teeth to feel the sharp pain of some of the modern whitening plans, and studies are showing that these methods might actually be harming our teeth in the long run. Luckily, at South Charlotte Dentistry we are looking out for you and those pearly whites of yours. Let’s find the best methods for whitening—and those that don’t damage the teeth and gums.
The increased sensitivity we have seen rise right along with the sales and popularity of take-home whitening products is due to a lethal procedure: hydrogen peroxide robs your teeth of electrons and enamel begins to break down. The gums begin to recede, exposing sensitive nerves, resulting in that hateful sting that comes at the first contact of cool air or liquid. It’s time we take a good look at whitening products to see which ones, if any, are safe to use.
When it comes to brightening that smile, using LED lighting for whitening teeth has proven to be a pricey, yet popular method. And now that LED whitening can be done at home, more and more of us are trying it. But is it safe? Sure, we are seeing spectacular results, as dentists and patients are beginning to take a closer look at this advanced method of removing coffee, nicotine, and wine stains from the teeth. But is using LED lighting—or, blue lighting, as it is often called—for whitening teeth actually harming us? Though the results of this particular whitening method are positive, patients are still citing some enamel loss and increased sensitivity. This alone should serve as a warning sign. Any loss of enamel is bad and will only make matters worse as we age, since we are unable to grow our tooth’s enamel back. Luckily, doctors have just recently discovered an even newer method, still using LED lighting, to whiten teeth but without the negative effects.
Here’s how it works: A gel is applied to the teeth then LED lights are used to trigger photocatalysts in the teeth, which then brighten and whiten. The gel is used to speed up the process and make the LED light more effective.
Though the chemicals in the gel used in conjunction with the LED lighting may not be quite as powerful as what’s used in other strips or gels, this process can still be harsh on the teeth—especially sensitive teeth. This has caused a bit of backlash, but this method is still seen as a step in the right direction, as it is not as intense as other take-home whitening products. But, new developments have been made, and the results are quite impressive. The drawback? This advanced method cannot be bought over the counter, leaving most of us back at square one.
The Charcoal Craze
The latest craze for whitening teeth is using charcoal toothpaste, which boasts the ability to whiten your teeth in a natural, effective manner. However, what a lot of people don’t know is the health risks involved with this method of whitening.
Using charcoal in toothpaste isn’t exactly a new innovation. Even as far back as Roman times, charcoal was used as an ingredient in toothpaste and cleaners. Even as recent as the 19th century, charcoal was used by people making homemade toothpaste.
The reality is charcoal toothpaste actually provides very few teeth whitening benefits. If you are considering giving the charcoal toothpaste trend a try, we recommend you consider other whitening alternatives instead. The American Dental Association warns users that “It might not be noticeable right away, but charcoal toothpaste actually wears down the enamel on your teeth.” Charcoal toothpaste is actually very harsh on your teeth and once the tooth enamel is gone, it won’t come back—ever. Because the tooth enamel is the whitest part of your teeth, this is where the color comes from. The layer underneath the tooth enamel, the dentin, is actually a naturally yellow color. Using charcoal toothpaste will strip away the white tooth enamel and you may end up with teeth more stained than you started with. The problem is, charcoal works at whitening initially because it is scrubbing your teeth clean. But it doesn’t take long for that scrub to diminish the enamel, which is why we suggest staying away from this whitening product.
Everyone is looking for a whiter and brighter smile and there are several other options out there that are better for your teeth than charcoal toothpaste. Don’t fall for the trending trap of using this whitening agent!
The Truth About Modern Whitening Products
With so many whitening products out there, how can you be sure you’re getting the safest one? It’s a scary thought that you could potentially be purchasing a whitening kit that will damage your teeth, so here are three recommendations to consider when looking to whiten:
- Stay away from trays and gels. This whitening system has been around the longest, and though it does whiten your teeth, it also—you guessed it—eats away at the tooth enamel. The process involves heating a tray, filling it with whitening gel, and inserting it to the mouth to form a bond. The problem with this method is that it can take weeks for results to show, so users tend to use it a lot in order to get the desired results. And consequently, most people who use the trays and gels report having teeth sensitivity afterwards, even receding gums.
- Use caution with whitening strips—actually, don’t use them at all! The famous whitening strips have been around for ten years or so, and have had a lot of success. Results can show in about a week, and the process is easy: simply fold the strip over your top and bottom rows of teeth and keep them in your mouth for a short period of time. However, just as the trays and gels, this method is bad for your teeth and gums in the long run.
- Paint-on whitening? Nope, stay away from this as well. The paint-on method solves the problem of the whitening agent interacting with interior soft tissues, such as the gums and inner cheek, as you simply brush the whitening gel on each tooth and let it sit for a short period of time, but this “paint” is full of chemicals that like to diminish the enamel. This method is an easy process, which is why it has become popular, but it just isn’t healthy. After months, even years, of using paint-on whiteners users have noticed receding gums and increased tooth sensitivity.
Ultimately, your best option for a fresh smile this spring is to visit us at South Charlotte Dentistry. Let us diagnose the current state of your particular oral health and advise on exactly what can be done to clean those teeth and brighten that smile. No matter the problem you are having, we can help you look your best.
A Healthy Option
Recently, two natural methods of whitening teeth have been coming to light. Both maintain your tooth’s enamel, and if used correctly, they don’t push up your gums and reveal that sensitive area between the teeth and gum line. Check these out:
-Turmeric Tooth-Whitening Paste. As turmeric is naturally an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, it does more than simply clean the teeth. It’s good for your overall oral health. Here are the ingredients for this healthy whitening method:
-4 tablespoons turmeric powder
-2.5 tablespoons coconut oil
-2 tablespoons baking soda
Mix the ingredients until a paste is formed and store in an airtight container. Use the paste on your teeth two or three times a week, using regular—non-whitening—toothpaste the rest of the week. All it takes is a pea-sized drop of the turmeric paste and a light touch when brushing (it can be a bit abrasive, so brush lightly so you don’t end up damaging your teeth and gums).
- Baking Soda Lemon Tooth-Whitening Paste. Though it seems as though the acidity of a lemon and abrasiveness of baking soda would be harsh on the teeth, if used lightly, and in moderation, it can be quite effective and safe.
The lemon juice acts as a bleach to help whiten teeth, while the pH of the baking soda balances out the acidity of your mouth to create a nice whitening agent. Here’s the recipe:
-10 teaspoons of baking soda
-Enough lemon juice to form a paste
The same with the turmeric paste, brush lightly. Use a pea-sized amount and let the product sit on your teeth for a minute or two before rinsing. Do this two or three times a week and results should begin to show within a month.
Before You Whiten
Though it is tempting to buy the most popular take-home whitening products on the market, the natural method is so much safer and better for your overall oral health. Just because your friend has found a product that works without causing sensitivity and enamel loss, it doesn’t mean its safe. It could take years, but eventually that loss of enamel and raised gum line will cause some problems.
Your first step is to come in and meet with Dr. Wells and his team. They can successfully assess your teeth and gums to forecast which method(s) might be best for you. We like to keep up on the most modern methods of whitening, and we’d like to share this information with you.
You can try all the natural methods the internet has to offer, but there is nothing better than having a professional look at your mouth to figure out the best and safest method of whitening. Come see us today and find that smile you have always wanted.