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 one trust all the home remedies we read about online and see on television? Let's take a look at what you need to know as a parent when your child mentions they’d like to start whitening their 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 teen’s teeth – the thickness of their enamel, orthodontic implications, overall state of oral health, and a host of other things that you just won't know about without asking 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 of this 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 our 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, what appears to be a good option really isn't. Baking soda, while in many toothpaste products, is integrated into these pastes at levels far below what your teen is going to get when applying baking soda straight out of the box at home. Baking soda is abrasive, and precisely the reason why many people with sensitive teeth and worn enamel stay away even from whitening toothpastes – even with lower levels of the ingredient.
- Peroxide. Bleaches hair and teeth? Peroxide is the main ingredient in home whitening kits, and is included in these kits because it does whiten teeth. Your teen’s dentist can help them choose the right product specific to their teeth. It's also worth mentioning that digging under your bathroom cabinet with the thought of swishing around undiluted peroxide is a bad idea. While research does suggest diluted concentrations of peroxide can benefit some people, there is also research that suggests just the opposite. Once again, consulting with your dentist first is your best bet, and have your teen save the peroxide bath for white-washing their jeans instead.