June 22, 2019
Everyone wants their smile to be as bright as possible, and to that end there’s seemingly no end to the various methods people try to whiten their teeth. If you look online, you’ll find plenty of “natural” solutions for removing enamel stains, but how well do they work? And how do they compare to teeth whitening provided by a professional? Here’s what you need to know about these treatments.
What Sort of Natural Treatments are Available?
There are various methods of do-it-yourself teeth whitening. Some of the more popular options are:
- Activated charcoal: Charcoal is very porous and is already used in other medical procedures. The idea is that the charcoal will bind with the particles causing the stain before you brush it off.
- Oil pulling: This is where you swish coconut, sunflower or sesame oil in your mouth to kill bacteria.
- Strawberries: Some people mix strawberries with baking soda and let it sit on the teeth to clean the enamel.
- Turmeric: There are some claims that spices like turmeric can whiten teeth and improve overall oral health.
Are These Natural Methods Effective?
Despite various claims, there’s no reliable scientific evidence that oil pulling or turmeric can whiten teeth; all cases are purely anecdotal.
While some patients have had some level of success using charcoal or strawberries, these methods can only address extrinsic stains on the surface of the tooth; they can’t get below the enamel in order to remove intrinsic stains. Furthermore, activated charcoal is highly abrasive, and strawberries contain malic acid that can be damaging if left on the tooth too long. In other words, you could actually damage your pearly whites instead of improving them.
What About Professional Teeth Whitening?
Your dentist should be the first person you turn to when asking for safe, effective methods of bleaching. There are two kinds of teeth whitening you can get from a professional: in-office whitening that can significantly brighten your teeth in about 15 minutes, and take-home whitening where you use custom mouth trays filled with a special solution to gradually create a more beautiful smile.
There are many benefits to professional whitening:
- Removes Intrinsic Stains: The gel in an in-office whitening and the solution in a take-home kit can penetrate the enamel in order to get rid of the stains underneath, which is something that over-the-counter products and natural whitening techniques won’t be able to do.
- Efficiency: An in-office treatment can make your teeth several shades whiter during a single visit. You can get similar results with a take-home kit in about 2 weeks.
- Dentist Oversight: You can be sure your dentist is using safe, approved techniques. With an in-office whitening, you’ll have the additional benefit of having a professional with you throughout the process.
If you’ve been wishing your smile was more dazzling, talk to your dentist before trying any whitening methods at home; they’ll help you find a solution that can improve the appearance of your teeth while still protecting your oral health.
About the Author
Dr. Bita Kamali is trusted by families in Plano to create healthy, great-looking smiles. She offers professional whitening and porcelain veneers for patients concerned with the appearance of their teeth, and she offers sedation dentistry for those who find dental appointments to be a stressful experience. To schedule an appointment at her practice, Parkway Vista Dental, visit her website or call (972) 818-1300.