The teeth whitening truths and myths a dentist wants you to know
Through various forms of social media, bloggers and celebrities have been heavily promoting different forms of teeth whitening products, but how safe are they really?
DIY charcoal teeth whitening has recently become a huge trend on Instagram and YouTube as vloggers and bloggers “swear by it,” but how reliable is it? These individuals use activated charcoal toothpaste to whiten their teeth and claim to see immediate results.
Unfortunately, the trend might not be as safe as people think. “There is currently no evidence or scientific indication that activated charcoal provides any benefit in regards to tooth whitening,” says Dr. Drew Gripentrog, a dentist affiliated with Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “More studies need to be done to determine the safety and effectiveness of the product because as an abrasive product, there are some concerns about effects of its use on gum tissue and tooth enamel.”
Dr. Gripentrog suggests using other teeth whitening alternatives rather than a DIY activated charcoal toothpaste. He highly recommends consulting your dentist before trying any whitening products to determine the most effective whitening treatment for the individual. Also, make sure to always read the instructions on the products, as tooth sensitivity and gum irritation can occur if these whitening products are not applied properly.
There are two main types of tooth whitening products that are most effective at removing deep stains below the surface level:
- Professionally applied whitening (through your dentist office)
- Home-use whiteners (dentist-prescribed/over the counter), which come in the forms of trays, strips, gels, rinses or kits
Dental whitening products, toothpaste and some chewing gums work to remove only surface stains.
Each product will have a different result for each individual, so it’s important to have a dental evaluation before beginning any whitening products. Also make sure to follow the instructions on any teeth whitening product you use, because misuse of products can cause discomfort or damage to your teeth.
And to prevent the problem in the first place, remember that stained and discolored teeth can be caused by different factors including beverages like coffee, wine, soda, tea and other dark drinks; acidic foods; smoking; poor dental hygiene and age. By avoiding the things you can, you improve your chances of keeping your teeth pearly white.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.