Oh dear, where to begin.
The reason I chose this topic for my next post is that I was reading a dental blog that gave homemade teeth whitening tips to people. I’m sure the intention was good when they listed all known household items than can whiten the teeth. You see people love to get self-help tips on their health – especially on their teeth to avoid seeing the dentist. But dental professionals should know better not to advice certain things as they can very quickly cause permanent damage to the teeth.
(This is a reminder for all of us not to believe everything you read from the net especially regarding your health)
There are two types of stains on your teeth. Surface stains and deep stains.
Surface stains build up from coffee, tea, red wine, smoking and certain spices, mouthwashes and vitamin supplements (iron in a liquid form).
Deep stains are those that will make the natural colour of your teeth (which you will see after scale and polish when the surface stains have been removed) yellower. The older you get the yellower the teeth will get (or have you seen elderly people with pearly white teeth? If you have they are false).
So what will damage your teeth? I will tell you. Starting from the worst. But at first for clarification
- I will not give any instructions on how to use these substances
- it won’t be a comprehensive list of the substances that is advised to use for teeth whitening purposes but a list of most common ones
There are normally two types of whitening toothpastes. Toothpastes with increased abrasivity (normally all most common brands’ whitening toothpastes e.g. Crest, Golgate, Arm&Hammer) have high RDA level (higher than RDA 100) and if used regularly, it can lead to toothwear. This toothwear is permanent. I never advice anyone to use these toothpastes on regular basis.
Safer types of whitening toothpastes are the ones that do not have high RDA level but are based on papain enzyme which whitens the teeth. Examples of these toothpastes are brand Youtuel (RDA 40) and Glodent. When I used Youtuel for the first time somewhat 20 years ago, it was impressive how well it removed surface stains.
If you are interested to read a study about papain enzyme as whitening ingredient, click here.
Would you love to get white teeth with practically no money spent at all (as you get the lemons anyway for cooking etc) plus super sensitive teeth and eroded enamel to go with the deal? Yes? Use lemon.
An advice to use lemon for teeth whitening isn’t under any circumstance acceptable by a dental professional. Lemon is highly acidic fruit and can erode the teeth when used regularly. Erosion will result in sensitive teeth. Imagine if you already have thinned enamel for any reason and you start to use lemon for whitening purposes. You will soon find out it wasn’t a wise move as your teeth will become so sensitive to the cold that even breathing through your mouth hurts. Also the thin enamel will make you more prone to decay.
In 2005 BBC had to apologise publicly for a lemon tooth whitening tip when one of its programmes recommended lemon as a money saver to families. I happened to watch this programme and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Thank goodness British Dental Health Foundation soon found out about the programme as well and complained to the BBC.
I’m not convinced that the apology reached everyone who watched the programme.
Strawberry and Baking Soda
Now combination of these two used daily for longer period of time will damage your enamel. Baking soda works as abrasive and strawberry as an acid. A very bad combination.
Safe frequency of use is once a week.
It is slightly abrasive to teeth and can damage the teeth especially if used with vigorous brushing technique.
Do not use baking soda if you have braces. It can soften the glue.
Salt crystals can scratch the enamel. Make sure to let the salt dissolve in the water before using it (kinda looses the point of using it, doesn’t it?).
Hydrogen Peroxide is the only known substance that removes deep stains. It doesn’t remove the surface stains so scaling and polishing is normally needed prior the whitening.
There are products over the counter (OTC) that contains hydrogen peroxide but these should be used under a supervision of a dentist as the excessive use of hydrogen peroxide will weaken the enamel permanently.
If you cause damage to your enamel by these abrasive or acidic home whitening products, it will be permanent. Thin enamel not only make the teeth sensitive to cold and prone to decay but it also makes the teeth look darker or yellower in colour. The dentin under the enamel is more yellow than the enamel and it will start to show through when the enamel gets thinner.
Important facts to remember
- you can never ever change the natural colour of your tooth by lemon, baking soda, strawberry, whitening toothpastes etc. You may be able to remove the stains from the surface of the tooth but not the actual colour that is different with every individual
- you should never replace fluoride toothpaste with any of the above means. Thinning of the enamel together with lack of fluoride will speed up sensitivity and decaying
- all the means of whitening the teeth will result in damage of the enamel at certain level
- any of the whitening products do not whiten fillings or crowns
- the surface stains will carry on building up after the whitening if you carry on smoking and drinking coffee/tea/red wine. Also the new whitened natural colour of your teeth (whitened by hydrogen peroxide) will little by little get more yellow for the same lifestyle reasons
An impartial information about the risks of teeth whitening is almost impossible to find. The internet is full of practices advertising themselves and saying it’s all fine and dandy to do the whitening. So be cautious!
If you are interested in reading reliable article click here.