The Truth About Whitening Products
There’s no shortage of products that promise to whiten and brighten your smile. From charcoal toothpaste to light at-home light therapy, the number of options on the shelf can be overwhelming. But some of the most-hyped whitening options are ineffective at best – and harmful at worst.
Dr. Cary Berdy joined WJXT on Saturday, June 12 for an interview to discuss this topic. View the segment here and continue reading to learn more:
What Are the Causes of Tooth Discoloration?
There are a number of ways that teeth can become discolored:
- Medications. Certain types of antibiotics, antihistamines, and high blood pressure medications can cause tooth discoloration.
- Diet. Drinks like coffee, tea and soda will stain your teeth, eventually causing yellow or brown discoloration. Meanwhile, food such as berries and pasta sauce can also leave an unsightly tint over time.
- Trauma. Injuries to the mouth or teeth, or sometimes emergency dental procedures can cause teeth to become discolored.
- Tobacco Use. Tar and nicotine leave a yellow or brown stain on the surface of your teeth.
While there are many causes of tooth discoloration, there are also many ways in which to avoid it. This can be as simple as limiting drinks like coffee, tea and soda to keep your teeth whiter. If it’s too tough to give up darker-colored drinks, one trick is to use a straw to drink these beverages. This helps the liquid avoid contact with teeth, reducing the amount of staining that occurs.
Unfortunately, stains on teeth are often unavoidable. Your teeth will naturally absorb some color from the everyday things you eat and drink. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to reverse this discoloration.
What Should I Know about Teeth Whitening Trends?
There are many trendy whitening methods circulating these days, but not all of them are helpful. Some don’t really do anything at all, and others can actually be quite harmful.
- Charcoal Toothpaste. One trend that has become popular is charcoal toothpaste. While the claims surrounding activated charcoal sound great that it removes harmful toxins from your body and whitens teeth – it can have an adverse effect on your tooth enamel. Charcoal toothpaste is abrasive and may actually remove enamel rather than whiten teeth. Once tooth enamel is gone, it doesn’t come back. I advise my patients to steer clear of this option.
- Light Whitening. Another trend that has popped up recently is light whitening. This method is mostly a gimmick, as it dehydrates teeth rather than changing the actual color of the teeth themselves. This means that as soon as the teeth rehydrate themselves (approximately one week), they will return to their normal shade.
Which are the Most Safe Teeth Whitening Techniques?
Techniques like zoom whitening, bleaching trays, or even over-the-counter whitening strips are much more effective at obtaining a longer-lasting whiteness for teeth.
- Zoom Whitening. Zoom whitening is a fast and effective way to whiten teeth. Using a hydrogen peroxide whitening gel, teeth are whitened in a quick and painless session. However, as with any tooth-whitening procedure, the results are only temporary. Good oral hygiene and avoidance of stain-causing foods will help maintain the whitening treatment.
- Bleaching Trays. These trays are another common method for whitening teeth. They are available from dentists or over-the-counter. The trays are filled with a whitening agent and are then left on for hours at a time -- or sometimes even overnight -- to work their magic. Trays can be a bit messier and more uncomfortable than other methods, but they are certainly effective.
- Whitening Strips. Most people have heard of or used these widely-available whitening agents. While they are simple to use and take less time than bleaching trays, they are often more abrasive to the tooth enamel. Whitening strips often cause tooth sensitivity, so users should pay attention to how their teeth feel and stop use if the sensitivity becomes painful.
Above all, creating and maintaining whiter teeth begins with a consistent oral hygiene routine. You’d be surprised at the results you can yield simply by dedicating more time to taking care of your teeth every day.
At our practice, 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. Your dentist can give you the best insight on which method of whitening makes the most sense for you. Don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule your next appointment.