Everyone wants a brighter, whiter smile and these days there are all sorts of over-the-counter whitening options readily available, however new research suggests that these cheap “quick-fix” solutions could cause more harm than good.
Some products available on the high street were found to reduce the hardness of enamel, according to early findings published in the British Dental Journal.
Consumers have been urged by the British Dental Association (BDA) to exercise caution and not gamble with the health of their smiles.
The British Dental Bleaching Association said: “We are concerned that the over the counter products may be harmful to teeth and advise the general public to see their dentist if they are considering having their teeth whitening”
What causes discolouration?
There are several factors that can cause teeth to become discoloured or yellowed. Smoking, coffee, red wine and falling behind on your oral hygiene routine are just a few things that can lead to discolouration of the teeth.
Charcoal toothpaste is regularly touted by Instagram influencers and beauty gurus as the all-natural way to a whiter smile, however the truth is that charcoal is an abrasive material; even after it is activated and finely ground it has the abrasiveness similar to that of grinding sand on your teeth, meaning that you could damage your enamel permanently by causing microscopic scratches which eventually reduce the thickness and strength. Over time these microscopic scratches in your tooth will also begin to trap stains faster, leaving you in a vicious cycle of stain removal. Unfortunately, the abrasiveness of a toothpaste is not something that is currently regulated, and so charcoal toothpaste continues to gain popularity.
While charcoal toothpaste can appear to whiten teeth, however due to its abrasiveness, it only removes extrinsic (surface) stains often caused by food and drink. True tooth whitening removes intrinsic stains which are stains deep within the tooth structure.
Whitening strips are made with a gel containing hydrogen peroxide, which works with the moisture in your mouth to produce urea that breaks up stains.
Overuse of whitening strips will result in damage to and increased sensitivity of your teeth and gums due to the harsh chemicals within them.
These strips can also fail to properly cover the tooth surface, resulting in teeth that are varying shades of yellow.
Over-the-counter UV kits
Whitening kits that involve the use of ultraviolet rays are another favourite of the influencer community due to their claims to be safe for home use, and we’ve seen plenty of celebs and bloggers posting photos on social media with the handheld UV lights in their mouth, however research has shown that these treatments can cause side effects including nerve damage, shrinking of gums, oral infections, toothache, stomach damage and irritation to the skin surrounding the mouth.
Sodium Bicarbonate Toothpaste
The use of sodium bicarbonate as toothpaste isn’t a new idea, with the use of plain baking soda and water to whiten teeth dating back to the early 1980s.
As well as leaving teeth noticeably whiter, sodium bicarbonate toothpaste is popular as it does not contain fluoride which has become a controversial ingredient in recent years as people have begun to link it to negative effects on health, such as a correlation to thyroid problems and osteoporosis. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which is essential to oral health, and as a result is contained in a lot of toothpastes on the market. Fluoride strengthens the enamel of your teeth and prevents decay. When used properly and in moderation, Fluoride will improve your oral health.
Despite their whitening power, sodium bicarbonate toothpastes, much like the charcoal kind mentioned earlier, are more abrasive than normal toothpastes. They can wear down your enamel over time instead of strengthening it, putting you more at risk of cavities.
So how can I whiten my teeth?
These quick-fix whitening solutions can often cause more damage than good, which in turn can leave you needing more dental work, putting you more out of pocket.
If stain removal is what you’re looking for, our AquaCare air-polishing machine uses a mixture of water, air and fine powder to gently remove stains.
If you’re interested in whitening your teeth, speak to our dentists about your options. Our prescription home whitening and zoom laser whitening are the safest ways to enhance your smile under the supervision of a dental professional.