Avoiding Risky Whitening Hacks
The pressure to have gleaming white teeth is especially prevalent among young adults. In fact, one study found that those with whiter teeth were more likely to receive job offers, be perceived as more confident, and even landed more dates. This leads many to turn to online “hacks” that promise an instantly whiter smile. While they may seem harmless, many of these tips can actually ruin your dental health.
Dr. Cary Berdy appeared on WJXT on Sunday, February 20 to discuss this topic. Continue reading to learn more:
What Are Some Popular Whitening Hacks that Cause Harm to Teeth?
Whitening teeth improperly can be damaging to your enamel. Enamel is the toughest tissue in the human body, covering the outside layer of your teeth and helping to protect from harsh chewing and erosion. But once your enamel is gone, it doesn’t ever come back. Improper treatment can not only erode your teeth – it can also cause sensitivity and irritation of the gums.
There are several whitening methods that are often touted on social media that can actually be very harmful. These include:
- Baking Soda and Lemon: This whitening method seems safe as it utilizes natural ingredients, but those ingredients can damage the enamel of your teeth. Lemons are very acidic, and when paired with abrasive baking soda can significantly damage your teeth.
- Light Whitening: Light whitening, which is when teeth are whitened using UV or LED light, has grown in popularity, especially among younger groups. Products like Purely White Deluxe are pushed by influencers on social media as being a quick and easy way to whiten. However, while this method whitens teeth at first, it does so by dehydrating them to appear whiter. The treatment wears off in about a week, requiring frequent application.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in most whitening treatments, but this doesn’t mean you can simply use it on its own. If ingested, the chemical can be toxic – and when used incorrectly, it can cause irreversible damage to teeth.
While whitening toothpaste is advertised as an easy way to whiten your teeth without adding any steps to your oral care routine, many of these are simply not very effective, and can be abrasive to enamel. I suggest checking which you use to ensure it’s endorsed by the American Dental Association. It should have an ADA logo.
What Are the Best Ways to Whiten Teeth?
For those seeking a whiter smile, there are fortunately a few very safe and effective ways to achieve that. These methods won’t cause damage to your enamel or gums.
- Bleaching Trays: This is one of the most common methods for whitening teeth and can be done effectively at home or with trays provided by a dentist. Bleaching trays contain a whitening gel that is left on overnight or for a few hours at a time. While this isn’t the easiest method, it works very well and doesn't cause damage to the teeth.
- Whitening Strips: This tried-and-true method is simple and can be used at home or with kits from your dentist. The strips can be abrasive to the enamel of the tooth but take less time than bleaching trays and are still very effective. One side effect is sensitivity, so those using this method should be cautious of not using strips too frequently as they may cause pain.
How Can You Keep Your Teeth White for Longer?
While bleaching trays, whitening strips and Zoom whitening are all effective methods, they aren’t permanent. As time goes on, teeth will begin to discolor and yellow without proper upkeep. However, there are some ways that you can prolong the treatments to keep your teeth as white as possible.
- Avoid stain-causing foods and drinks: Diet is a key factor in maintaining the whiteness of your teeth. Avoiding drinks that tend to stain, such as coffee, and red wine as much as possible will limit the effects of staining on your teeth. Additionally, limiting your intake of foods or drinks that are acidic and sugary like soda or candy will help keep your enamel strong, protecting your white teeth.
- Maintain a strong oral care routine: The efforts to whiten your teeth will mean nothing if you don’t follow a consistent oral health routine. Maintaining smart habits, including daily brushing and flossing, will greatly extend the life of your whitening treatment.
At Berdy Dental Group, we’ve seen many whitening “fads” come in and out of popularity over the years. Our best advice is to simply start with a conversation at your next dental exam. Don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule your next appointment.