What’s more important is that your teeth are healthy. But compared to Americans, many people are now opting for teeth whitening treatments, that are not just expensive but also usually made with bleach. It’s difficult enough to find an affordble dentist as it is, so most tooth whitening treatments are carried out by expensive private dental clinics. And of course, they all say that you won’t get the same results from home kits or natural methods. Is this true? Let’s find out!
Professinoal teeth whitening should only be carried out by a qualified dentist or dental hygenist. If you find someone not as qualified (even a beautician), this could lead to teeth sensitivity, gum irritation and even chemical burns.It’s illegal in some places for non-qualified people to offer teeth whitening treatments, as most involve bleach. The mouth ways is custom-made to fit your teeth, then the bleach oxidises your tooth pigment, by going into the enamel (something home kits won’t be able to do). Good dentists tend to just lift your teeth up by a shade or two, so you won’t knock people out with a dazzling (yet artificial) smile!
If you drink a lot of coffee and soda, these drinks will eventually penetrate the enamel, eventually whitening toothpastes will have little to no effect. The good news is that if done well, a one-off tooth whitening treatment won’t harm your teeth, although bleach is obviously not good for the planet. Your teeth may feel a bit tender for the first 36 hours, and the results are gradual, up to a few months. One treatment is enough for some, with more offered to people with lots of teeth stains. Tooth whitening treatments do not work on crowns, veneers, dentures or fillings.
Tips to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth
- Drink less ‘stain’ foods. Strong tea or coffee, red wine.
- Give up smoking, another obvious choice.
- Too many antibiotics is another culprit. If you need them, take them. But don’t rely on them, over everything else.
- Don’t worry about it! As we get older, the enamel wears away to reveal the dentin underneath. So often you can’t ‘scrub away the stain’, it’s just your ‘old brown teeth’ showing through underneath! Nobody cares, really! If you want to slow things down, eat good things (plant proteins, veggies) and avoid bad things that destroy enamel (diet soda).
Do Whitening Toothpastes Really Work?
Whitening toothpastes simply remove abrasive stains like tea, coffee and red wine, and need to be used up a good few weeks (without drinking any of the above) to have any effect. Some use the chemical blue covarine to give the appearance of whiter teeth (just like some laundry powders that use a blue hue to make your clothes appear ‘whiter than white’. It’s optical illusion, not science.
Never use toothpaste with the sweetener xylitol near pets. Added as an alternative to sugar, just a tiny amount (on sinks or around your mouth) could be lethal if licked (it’s also found in gum and sweet foods like chocolate). Avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and medical conditions like epilepsy and asthma, and avoid rosemary, citrus and sage oils for high blood pressure.
- Baking soda is naturally abrasive and can whiten teeth a bit, but don’t go overboard and never use it with other substances that are abrasive, or you could weaken the tooth enamel and even cause micro-fractures. Ollie & Co Natural Whitening Toothpowder blends the baking soda with titanium clay and sweet fennel oil if you want to try it, but they say that you should only use it a few weeks at a time, especially for sensitive teeth.
- Some people use activated charcoal toothpaste, but most probably contain too little to make a difference. If you do use it, doctors say to avoid it if you have crowns, caps or porcelain veneers. See the post on zero waste natural vegan toothpaste.
- Too much fluoride is believed to contribute to early teeth yellowing. You don’t need fluoride unless prescribed topically by a dentist (it’s just usually phosphate fertiliser that’s ‘recycled in your mouth for profit’). Ireland has been fluoridating the tap water for decades, with no beneficial effect on dental health. Tooth decay is not caused by lack of fluoride, it’s caused by sugary foods. Water is fluoridated because governments believe that parents can’t feed their children properly.