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The Effectiveness of Home Remedies for Teeth Whitening

Natural doesn’t mean safe or effective

Written by: Dr. Nijam

July 22, 2021

We all dream of having the perfect white pearlies to get that dazzling smile. In recent years, many home remedies have popped up claiming that they help maintain the whiteness of your teeth, but are they really that effective? Read more to find out…

White and polished teeth are something we all naturally want; it captures the radiant smile of a person and makes one more attractive overall. Hence, it is not a surprise that teeth whitening has become increasingly popular over the years, especially with the rise of social media where we have never been more insecure about our appearance. From using lemon juice to oil pulling, and even brushing with baking soda, these popular home remedies for whiter teeth can be found in every corner of the interweb. But the big question is: Do they really work? Are they safe to use? How does it compare to proper teeth whitening procedures and what are the side effects?

What affects the colouration of our teeth?

What-causes-snoring

First, let’s discuss what affects the change of colour of our teeth. The colour of our tooth enamel is naturally white. However, with constant chemical reactions such as erosion and increased age, the enamel would slowly become thinner and the dentin (tissues beneath the enamel) would be exposed, causing the colour of the tooth to turn yellow in the process.  Certain food and drinks such as tea and wine are causes for teeth discolouration as they leave behind stains. But the biggest culprit is smoking and consuming tobacco products, so stay away from those if you want to maintain the whiteness of your teeth.

The “natural” way of whitening your teeth

Many teeth whitening articles on the net share a common theme—all-natural is the keyword. Most people would quickly identify something natural as a healthier and better option while something that has been made chemically is bad. In most cases, this may be true but it is not always the case especially when natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe. Here are 5 of the most popular ways to whiten your teeth at home according to the internet, and the adverse effects of it.

1) Lemon juice

oral-health

1) Lemon juice

Due to the high level of acidity in lemon juice, it was strongly suggested that it is a great teeth whitening agent. However, a study in 2015 found that lemon juice eats away the tooth enamel which is supposed to protect your teeth from decay. Unfortunately, unlike other parts of your body such as your nails, tooth enamel doesn’t regrow. So best steer clear of this acidic substance when whitening your teeth!

2) Brushing with baking soda

Chewing

2) Brushing with baking soda

Baking soda in moderate quantities is safe to use as it has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). In fact, it helps with the deep cleaning of the teeth if used correctly. However, do note that baking soda does not contain fluoride, which helps strengthen your teeth and prevent dental cavities, so you will still need to follow up with another round of brushing using a regular toothpaste.

You should avoid brushing with baking soda if you are wearing braces. Due to its alkalinity, baking soda will soften the orthodontic glue that attaches the braces to your teeth.

3) Coconut oil

3) Coconut oil

Although research has shown that coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the chance of plaque formation, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove oil pulling is beneficial to your oral health overall. That being said, it is safe to use coconut oil as “mouthwash” but in terms of effectiveness, there is no guarantee.

4) Activated charcoal

Gum-diseases

4) Activated charcoal

The toothpaste industry has seemed to push the idea that charcoal toothpaste can whiten your teeth and remove stains more effectively than regular toothpastes. However, the ADA has published their findings that using activated charcoal threatens the enamel and its high abrasive nature erodes the enamel easily, leading to the exposure of the dentin. Once the dentin is exposed, it can lead to dental complications such as tooth sensitivity.

5) Hydrogen peroxide solution (HPS)

Bad-breath-dry-mouth-and-cracked-lips

5) Hydrogen peroxide
solution (HPS)

Hydrogen peroxide is present in most whitening toothpastes, which makes it safe to use. It removes extrinsic stains (outside enamel), giving you the appearance of whiter teeth. However, high concentrations of the solution which is more than 3% would leave significant damage to the enamel and gum irritation. For people with sensitive teeth, please consult with your dentist before using hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth.

The effectiveness of DIY teeth whitening compared to conventional whitening kits

Seek-support-from-loved-one

According to a scientific journal, a group of researchers compared the efficacy of DIY whitening such as strawberry puree mixed with baking soda and compared it to a conventional whitening kit, Crest 3D intensive, in order to test the colour change of the tooth. To summarise, the researchers use visual colour assessment to test the effectiveness of teeth whitening between the two methods.

The results? DIY teeth whitening remedy with the use of a strawberry mixture is not an effective tooth whitening modality as opposed to professionally dispensed whitening solution for at-home use.

Regardless of the method you choose, it is crucial for you to check with your dentist before attempting to whiten your teeth at home. Just like how skincare products would react differently on different skin types, there is no one-size-fits-all with teeth whitening remedies too. The best solution, still, is to let the professionals do it.

If you wish to consult us for safe and efficient teeth whitening, be sure to book an appointment with us!

References:

1. Does Coconut Oil Whiten Teeth? (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/teeth-whitening/does-coconut-oil-whiten-teeth

2. Natural Teeth Whitening: Fact vs. Fiction. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/natural-teeth-whitening

3. Teeth Whitening Myths: Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe. (2020, July 15). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://int.hismileteeth.com/blogs/news/teeth-whiteningmyths-is-hydrogen-peroxide-safe

4. 6 ways your teeth can become yellow. (2019, May 28). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://healthengine.com.au/info/6-ways-your-teeth-can-become-yellow

5. Wyatt Jr, A. D. (Ed.). (2019, May 12). Foods That Stain Your Teeth. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/ss/slideshow-foods-stain-teeth

6. The effect that smoking has on your oral health. (2020, February). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.qvh.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/The-effect-that-smoking-has-on-your-oral-health-Rvw-Feb-2020.pdf

7. Bell, B. (2019, December 10). 6 Simple Ways to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth at Home. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whiten-teeth-naturally

8. Zimmer S, Kirchner G, Bizhang M, Benedix M (2015) Influence of Various Acidic Beverages on Tooth Erosion. Evaluation by a New Method. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0129462.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0129462

9. Ciancio, S. G. (2017). Baking soda dentifrices and oral health [Abstract]. Baking Soda Dentifrices and Oral Health, 148(11), s1-s3, 1-3. doi:
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2017.09.009

10.  Does Baking Soda Whiten Teeth? (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/teeth-whitening/does-baking-soda-whiten-teeth

11. Peedikayil, F. C. (2019). Is coconut oil good for oral health? A review [Abstract]. Is Coconut Oil Good for Oral Health? A Review, 6(1), 1-3. doi:
https://www.jhrr.org/text.asp?2019/6/1/1/257477

12. Peedikayil, F., Sreenivasan, P., & Narayanan, A. (2015). Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis – A preliminary report. Nigerian Medical Journal, 56(2), 143.
doi:10.4103/0300-1652.153406

13. Mullen, C. (2019, March 23). Charcoal is trendy. But in toothpaste? Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/lates-tnews/2019/05/charcoal-is-trendy-but-in-toothpaste.html?page=all

14. Brooks, J. K., DDS, Bashirelahi, N., PhD, & Reynolds, M. A., PhD. (2017). Charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices [Abstract]. Charcoal and Charcoal-based Dentifrices, 148(9), 661-670. doi:
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2017.05.001

15. Exposed Dentin: Causes and Treatment. (2020, March 14). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.proteethguard.com/blog/exposed-dentin-causes-and-treatment/

16. Johnsson, J. (2019, August 23). Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening: Does it work and is it safe? (1080855568 821090807 C. Frank DDS, Ed.). Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326148

17. Kwon SR, Meharry M, Oyoyo U, Li Y. Efficacy of do-it-yourself whitening as compared to conventional tooth whitening modalities: an in vitro study. Oper Dent. 2015 Jan-Feb;40(1):E21-7.
doi: 10.2341/13-333-LR. Epub 2014 Oct 3. PMID:25279797.

18. Watson, S. (2020, April 17). Crest 3D White Whitestrips Whitening + Therapy Dental Whitening Kit. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
https://crest.com/enus/products/crest-3d-white-whitestrips-whitening-therapy-dental-whitening-kit

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