The goal of achieving impossible white, perfect teeth is still a top trend in America and has been since the dawn of HD television and Hollywood-set beauty standards. Natural teeth are rarely the hyper-white shades we see in the media, but many people have set out to get their teeth to the ultimate brightest white possible. The multi-billion-dollar teeth whitening industry boomed since the public first showed interest in achieving impossibly bright white teeth. New products consistently come out, marketing various recent advancements, whether those promises are true or not.
Many people who have had bad experiences with at-home whitening products like various strips or light-activated serums and devices are now on the hunt for “safe” and “natural” methods to whiten their teeth. Store-bought whitening products contain harsh chemicals to bleach the teeth, so it’s not uncommon for users to experience sensitivity and other painful issues. However, the information online concerning natural teeth whitening can vary from somewhat truthful to completely misleading! We are going to list some of the most common “natural” whitening methods and explain the science behind the promises behind a whiter smile.
There have been claims that rubbing strawberries or banana peels on the teeth can remove stains and whiten them. Some even claim that a mixture of strawberries and baking soda will do an even better job of whitening, and several celebrities have even popularized the method. Other fruits that people claim have whitening superpowers are pineapple, watermelon, and papaya.
The science behind the fruit remedy isn’t very sound, however. Using fruits may help exfoliate very superficial stains on the teeth by “exfoliating” them, but they’re not powerful enough to create any kind of significant whitening. Even the fruits that contain proteolytic enzymes don’t do much to dissolve stains on the teeth. Instead, people who try these fruit remedies end up brushing acidic, crushed up, plaque-causing fructose sugar onto their teeth and, although it’s natural, it’s still sugar! When baking soda is added, it creates an even more corrosive environment, and if people do this too much, they can erode their enamel, which isn’t able to repair itself.
While oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health (and overall wellness), swishing coconut oil several times a week may not whiten teeth like people hope. Although, when mixing spices like turmeric, oil pulling with coconut oil can have other benefits like maintaining a healthy oral microbiome, keeping biofilm and plaque at bay. Coconut oil can also help reduce inflammation in the mouth, and it helps kill bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. This mixture and coconut oil can remove some superficial stains, but the method itself won’t produce very significant results that rival those of professional or over-the-counter bleaching systems.
Most recently, non-ADA-approved, activated charcoal and baking soda-hydrogen peroxide toothpaste has become popular, mostly on social media, with promises of noticeable whitening with consistent use. However, there is no evidence that these ingredients work at all, but experts worry about those who continue to use them because of their abrasive nature. Using these materials on the teeth can make them appear more yellow than white! Eroding the enamel down with abrasive scrubs can wear it away, exposing the softer tissue underneath called dentin, which is yellowish in color.
Stains and At-Home Whitening
Superficial stains that can be easily removed are most often caused by food and drink, particularly smoking or tobacco use. Dark drinks like red wine, coffee, and eating foods rich in dyes can discolor teeth with repeated exposure. If those stains are set in for a longer duration, they can be harder to remove. Still, generally simple ADA-approved whitening toothpaste can do the trick, especially for people who have never whitened their teeth.
Plaque build-up can also cause yellowing, mainly because it’s usually located between the teeth. This is why many at-home products like whitening strips don’t work very well; they fail to make contact with these crevices and ultimately only end up whitening the very front-facing part of the teeth. People who use these strips tend to over-use them because of this, not understanding why they can’t get rid of some residual yellowing.
Another problem with at-home products is that people tend to equate white teeth with healthy teeth when it’s not always the case! The best way to get rid of the yellowing plaque between teeth is to visit the dentist regularly for cleanings to remove it professionally. People who have even slight crowding on their upper or lower teeth will accumulate more plaque faster and need to have cleanings every six months to avoid build-up.
People who are trying to attain a very hyper-white shade of brightness on their teeth, simple at-home remedies, and drugstore toothpaste won’t cut it. And while whitening strips do have active ingredients similar to those of professional whitening methods, they’re not as strong and effective. Their application is not efficient enough to get maximum results. Many patients end up using them so much they develop intense sensitivity without ever whitening the yellowing between teeth, which is a bad deal for them, and a lot of money wasted on products that they could have invested in professional whitening with less pain and better results!
Many people think you have to break the bank to get a round of professional whitening done at the dentist- but that’s not the case! There are always affordable packages and promotions happening, and some dentists are even willing to give discounts to loyal and long-time patients. The benefits of in-house whitening aren’t just a brighter, whiter smile, but the procedure is the best bang for your buck. One session can cost as much as two boxes of whitening strips that won’t create results that come close to professional whitening after only one visit. Not only does the patient get whiter teeth faster for the same cost, but it’s also done while being monitored by a dental professional to ensure all safety and comfort standards are met.