Anything worth doing is probably worth finding a cheaper alternative for, right? In today’s cash-strapped world it’s easy to go online and find affordable DIY methods for most anything under the sun, and teeth whitening is just another thing that has fallen under the spell of lifehacks and home care remedies.
But do any of these solutions actually work? From natural alternatives to take-home drugstore whitening kits there’s plenty of options for the person who wants a whiter smile. We’ve answered plenty of DIY teeth whitening questions at our Edgewood office, so we wanted to compile a list of treatments and the reasons they might not be as great as you’d think.
The Natural Alternatives
There are quite a few all-natural methods that are supposedly able to bleach your teeth, but your mileage may vary on these … a lot.
- Oil pulling involves swishing oil in your mouth for ten to twenty minutes to pull stains and bacteria away from your teeth. While there is some merit to the removal of plaque bacteria there’s no good case of it actually working to whiten teeth. The plaque removal effect also isn’t as good as brushing and flossing, so just stick to that.
- Rubbing banana peels on your teeth is supposed to whiten them, and there’s a reason why this seems to work. Magnesium and potassium can “polish” your teeth by temporarily smoothing the surface, but it doesn’t last long at all. We’re talking about mere hours here.
- Citrus peels are another widely written about method – just rub them on like banana peels! The problem here is that the acid in citrus peels, which is supposed to be the active ingredient, is only going to damage your enamel. Acid in citrus softens enamel just like plaque acids. Prolonged use of this technique will result in damaged enamel and an increased risk of cavities.
- Brushing with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda is supposed to work, but it simply won’t. While peroxide is used to whiten teeth it won’t do anything in such a low concentration. Not only that, but your saliva weakens peroxide almost instantly, resulting in absolutely no discernable difference. Baking soda can clean teeth, but over time it can also damage enamel. Only use baking soda as an alternative to toothpaste when you have to.
There are countless brands of over-the-counter whitening products, and most aren’t going to get you the results you want either. Let’s start with the basics of how real teeth whitening works: hydrogen peroxide. Gels made from hydrogen peroxide are the only reliable way to whiten teeth, so products that don’t contain it are out.
Lots of over-the-counter products contain a chemical called carbamide peroxide. It’s related to hydrogen peroxide but is more stable. This stability, unfortunately, is traded off for in a lack of active ingredient. Carbamide first has to break down into hydrogen peroxide, so a ten percent carbamide solution is only going to be about three and a half percent of actual useable hydrogen peroxide. That’s only 1.5 percent more than the stuff sitting under your bathroom sink!
Even if your whitening gel was effective there’s one more serious issue that we mentioned above: hydrogen peroxide is incredibly unstable. You want it to break down into oxygen in water while isolated in your mouth because that’s what causes the whitening to happen. If your whitening tray isn’t custom fit to your teeth, however, there’s very little chance it will get that opportunity.
Saliva weakens hydrogen peroxide, breaking it down nearly instantly. Even sitting on the shelf of a drugstore or being exposed to light or warm temperatures breaks it down. There’s a good chance the stuff you’re getting from the store has already lost a lot of its whitening power.
What Actually Works?
Teeth whitening isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are a lot of differences between the stains on your teeth and those that the next person has. You both might want different results too! To truly get teeth whitening that works we need to customize a treatment plan that’s right for you and your individual needs.
At Edgewood Dental Care we trust our patients teeth to KöR deep bleaching. With custom made trays, refrigerated gels, and a proprietary three-barrel hydremide peroxide compound that really makes a whitening difference.
If you want to find out how to get really white teeth without wasting money or endangering your teeth to DIY tricks then don’t wait – call our office today. You can get a whiter smile by calling 859-474-7830 or by filling out our online appointment request form. We look forward to seeing you soon!