These days, it seems like whitening products are everywhere. It doesn’t take more than a trip to your local supermarket to encounter a dizzying variety of trays, gels, strips or toothpastes designed to take your teeth from their current state to one of fantastic luminescence. So what is a good consumer to make of it all, and should you trust all the home remedies we read about online and see on television? Here’s what you need to know when considering whitening your teeth at home.
- Speak With Your Dentist First: But why? With seemingly every single toothpaste brand containing whitener these days, that's a fair question. The reason is because your dentist knows your teeth – the thickness of your enamel, orthodontic implications (are you wearing braces as an adult?), your overall state of oral health, and a host of other things that you just won't know about without asking first. Just picking out the whitening kit with the best box design isn’t the way to go about caring for your teeth. Ask first.
- Avoid Any Remedies That Suggest Fruit: The Internet is a wonderful research tool, but it's also rife with misinformation. When it comes to home whitening suggestions, much inaccurate guidance revolves around the suggestion to rub fruit acid on teeth. It is a terrible suggestion. When it comes to our teeth, the goal is always to avoid highly acidic products, not increase your intake. And it’s never a good idea to literally brush one’s teeth with lemons, apples or strawberries as is often suggested. Excessive fruit acid can irreversibly damage the tooth enamel - not the goal at all.
- Baking Soda – a Mixed Bag: Once again, here’s another option that sounds simple and safe enough, but when used at home, has more risk than most consumers are aware. Baking soda, while effective as a whitening agent, is very abrasive. True, it is used in many toothpaste products today. But the truth is, baking soda included in such toothpastes is incorporated at levels far below what you would get applying it straight out of the box at home. Because it’s difficult for you to use the right amount and in the right way, it’s probably best to skip this baking soda as a home remedy.
- Peroxide. Bleaches Hair and Teeth? Peroxide is the main ingredient in home whitening kits, and is included in these kits because it does, in fact, whiten teeth. But digging under your bathroom cabinet with the thought of swishing around undiluted peroxide is a no-no. While research does suggest diluted concentrations of peroxide can benefit some people, there is also research that suggests just the opposite. Better to err on the side of caution. Once again, consulting with your dentist first is your best bet, and save the peroxide bath for white-washing your jeans instead.