Teeth Whitening: Answers To Your Questions

When it comes to teeth whitening, there are numerous myths circulating the internet, and as a result, there are many questions that are associated with these myths. Is teeth whitening bad for your tooth enamel? If I’m interested in teeth whitening, should I go to a professional or do it at home? Should I opt for whitening toothpaste or whitening strips? Are there any natural remedies? Does any of it even work? Below, we will address some of your question and talk about how teeth whitening can impact your oral health.

Why Exactly Do Teeth Turn Yellow?

Over time, your teeth can lose some of their white shine as a result of stains associated with dark drinks like soda, tea, and coffee, but these stains can easily be removed with routine brushing and regular trips to the dentist. Ultimately, the most common reason for your yellow teeth is actually below the surface. The outer layer of your teeth is known as enamel, and below that layer is another layer that is a yellowish tint known as dentin. As the outer layer of enamel begins to wear down from grinding of the teeth, acidic foods, typical scuffs, and natural aging, the yellowish layer of dentin will get closer and closer to the outer surface, causing your teeth to appear more yellow. Genetics tend to also play a significant role in the color of your dentin as well as the thinness, or thickness, of your enamel. 

Two Methods for Whitening Teeth

The American Dental Association reports that you whiten your teeth two different ways. The first is by using a product that contains bleaching agents that will alter the tooth’s color by penetrating the enamel and bleaching the dentin. The second is with abrasive methods that will remove the surface stains on the enamel. These methods include “whitening” toothpastes, “whitening” mouthwashes, and “whitening” gums. The quotations are for a reason.

Only one of the methods should be considered…

An important thing to realize immediately is that the first method—using chemicals—is more effective, more long-lasting, and if done properly, less damaging. The core issue with whitening with abrasive methods is that it only works on the surface-based stains and won’t affect the dentin, which is below the surface of the tooth. And, if it is used incorrectly, you may actually cause damage to the enamel and irritate the gums, which is unhealthy and may actually accelerate the yellowing of your teeth.

Should You Use Whitening Toothpaste?

Simply put, no. Whitening toothpastes are an excellent illustration of how the industry has split into two methods of whitening and an ideal example of the less honest side of things. There aren’t many dentists that will actually recommend whitening toothpastes since they have little to no impact. In terms of bleaching, there may be some toothpastes that have the right concentration of chemicals that may whiten your teeth, but they aren’t on your teeth long enough to have a positive effect. Ultimately, whitening agents need to be exposed to the teeth for at least 20 minutes to have an impact on the color of your teeth—some need hours! The ADA reports that whitening toothpastes will only remove surface-related stains with physical abrasives, and it is important that you’re not fooled by these products that promise to provide you with professionally whitened teeth. Many experts will compare the abrasives in these products to using sandpaper directly on your teeth. These whitening toothpastes will scrape away the enamel and dentin from your teeth. So, in conclusion, while these toothpastes are essentially made from the same chemicals from most regular toothpastes, they rub harder on your teeth, which can cause damage and offer little to no effect.

Should You Use Whitening Strips?

Chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are found in bleaching products. When these chemicals are used, it is important that you keep an eye out for various side effects, such as tooth sensitivity, since they can eat through the enamel in order to white teeth from the inside out, as well as mouth sores on your gums, especially when whitening strips are exposed to the gums. Experts recommend using custom whitening trays as opposed to whitening strips to avoid gum contact and to better reach the curves of your mouth/teeth. All in all, the strips are more effective when compared to toothpastes, but it is important that you use caution when using them and use them based on the advice of your dentist.

Can Hydrogen Peroxide Be Used at Home?

Many dentists strongly recommend that you do not use hydrogen peroxide to rinse your mouth out in order to achieve a whiter smile. When the product comes into contact with tissues, it can cause free radical reactions—the same reactions that can cause living tissue to age.

How About Natural Remedies for Teeth Whitening?

If you have scoured the internet, you have likely seen a wealth of natural remedies for teeth whitening, such as hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, and baking soda. Some experts report that these won’t work, and they will negatively impact your dental health.

Experts report that hydrogen peroxide doesn’t work the way it should, and it will actually disrupt the ratio of good and bad bacteria found within the mouth. Some say that fruits like strawberries and lemon can also cause damage to the teeth because the acids in them will eat away at the enamel. In the end, instead of whitening your teeth, you are permanently damaging them.

Should You Get Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments?

Some experts actually advise against professional treatment if you are looking for long-lasting results that don’t cost you hundreds of dollars. Plus, these treatments utilize anywhere from 25 to 40 percent hydrogen peroxide with a laser that companies report activate the whitening process; however, some studies have reported that there isn’t a long-term benefit with these laser-activated systems. A report issued by the American Dental Association actually showed that bleaching products that are applied professionally aren’t eligible any longer for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The ADA recommends that you talk to your dentist about teeth whitening options to avoid extensive damage to your teeth.

How Can You Safely Whiten Your Teeth?

Ultimately, the safest way to whiten your teeth is with bleaching products like whitening gel or strips as directed by a dental health professional. You can still cause damage to your enamel if you bleach your teeth extensively, but controlled use of bleaching products shouldn’t negatively impact your enamel. One misconception is that a higher potency of the gel, such as what you would find in a dental office, will help you achieve quicker, faster results; however, it is recommended to use a lower potency gel over the course of several weeks for optimal results.

Ultimately, the best way to get a brighter smile is to consistent care of your teeth. By brushing twice a day, gently, making sure to cover all surfaces of your teeth for two minutes, you will successfully keep the stains away, eliminating the need for abrasive and potentially damaging toothpastes. This is yet another reason to avoid powerful brushing methods and avoid using medium or hard bristled toothbrushes since anything that has the potential to scrape away the enamel is gradually bringing that yellow-colored dentin to the surface.

If you have any questions, contact us today at Fountain of Youth Dental.

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