7 DIY Teeth Whitening Hacks That Could be Harming Your Teeth
The internet is rife with all sorts of DIY teeth whitening hacks which have become highly sought after over the years. As many people yearn for that seemingly evasive perfect smile, these hacks have become a way for everyday people to achieve the celebrity look, or so we think. Very few of these DIY whitening hacks, if any, will actually work.
Further, those that work in the short-run come with a steep price to pay and can cause major damage to your teeth over time. With that in mind, let's take a look at seven of the most common whitening hacks that'll cause more harm than good.
Aluminum Foil Teeth Whitening and DIY Hacks That Harm Your Teeth
1) Aluminum Foil Teeth Whitening
Aluminum foil whitening is a popular teeth whitening hack that's gotten out of hand. Popular DIY blogs tell readers to mix baking soda, salt, and water together to make a thick paste. Then apply that paste to teeth and wrap a sheet of aluminum foil (somewhat like a retainer) to cover all of your teeth. After an hour or so, remove this paste/retainer combo and your teeth will appear brighter, whiter, and healthier, allegedly.
Consequently, these blogs may direct you to repeat these steps several times a week for optimal results.
However, none of the ingredients except for water are actually healthy for your teeth. Sure, you can enjoy salt or baking soda in moderation. But the direct application can cause numerous problems. Additionally, aluminum foil can create pain when it comes in contact with your teeth as foil has it has a tendency to react with certain metals, and other materials, especially in moist environments.
If you have fillings or crowns, the two different metals (the foil and the crown) cause a chemical reaction in your mouth. By coming in contact with one another in a moist environment, the process creates something like a battery in your mouth. When you bite on foil, the electrical current stimulates nerve endings in your teeth. Your brain will interpret the impulse as pain, and you may experience soreness or sensitivity even after the whitening materials have been removed.
It's not painful for everyone, but using this baking soda whitening paste can be damaging beyond repair if you're not careful. The last thing you want is an emergency dental bill.
2) Salt wraps, baking soda, and aluminum foil
Like a magical disappearing act, the interwebs state that covering teeth in aluminum foil after applying a paste of water, salt, and baking soda can suddenly turn brown teeth white. This is absolutely inaccurate, as anything of value takes time. You cannot stain your teeth for decades and use a magical paste made from products found at the grocery store to fix this. You may see improvement, but you may also cause additional damage, making it harder to whiten teeth in the future.
Of course, there is no empirical evidence to support whether this method is effective or not. Perhaps there could be a study over the course of 10-20 years where a focus group only used paste and foil whitening, while another used professional whitening, but as of today, no such study exists. However, we can say that there is overwhelming proof that aluminum foil damages the enamel of your teeth and causes pain.
Online you'll also hear about throwing out your old toothpaste for a concoction of coconut oil and turmeric. This combo allegedly proves the ultimate tooth whitening paste, affording results after just five minutes of soaking and rinsing.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. The natural coloring in turmeric can worsen the appearance and resistance of yellow teeth. Similar to clothing, eggs, or tiles, turmeric always seems to stain things. It does not remove stains, period. Most patients who desire teeth whitening are dealing with stains and buildup on the surface of their teeth. This is perfectly normal, as anything you use repetitively for years will show some signs of wear and tear.
In other words, the last thing you want to do is to apply products that will further stain the teeth. Further, the microscopic ridges on the surface of your teeth are a magnet for food particles and remnants. Dark foods, such as coffee or dark vinegar, stand out more than most when it comes to staining.
4) Apple cider vinegar
Vinegar's multi-purpose cleaning & sterilizing reputation is substantiated, and this has rightfully earned it a place on kitchen countertops around the world. It's a familiar product in households around the country, however, it should not be considered a good product to use for teeth whitening.
Its acidic properties make ACV an excellent product for tackling grime, glue, pests, and soap scum. However, this effectiveness sadly doesn't extend to teeth whitening. Rubbing a dash of vinegar against your teeth can progressively destroy tooth enamel. Swishing apple cider vinegar places your teeth in direct contact with a highly acidic substance that does more harm than good.
5) Lemons and baking soda
Another misconstrued case of using acid-based cleaners as teeth whiteners is a blend of lemon water and baking soda. Let's be clear, this does not instantaneously make your smile bright or white. The acid within the lemon juice will erode tooth enamel.
Consequently, this opens the door for faster tooth decay with continued use. While it is true that several toothpaste brands contain traces of baking soda, it is also true that the American Dental Association has not given the green light on a pure baking soda toothpaste.
6) Activated charcoal scrubs
This DIY's popularity has been growing for several generations. Using activated charcoal on teeth isn't a new hack to getting a whiter smile. It's on most of our parent's and grandparent's list of natural remedies. However, new research tells us this home remedy can cause problems with the gums - even though it may help to brighten teeth in the short-run. The notion is that a mixture of activated coal, baking soda, and coconut oil is the key to a perfect smile, is troubling. There is very little evidence backing this up. What's more, dentists have held activated coal responsible for gum irritation and inflammation in addition to enamel damage.
7) Coconut oil
Daily swishing with coconut oil tackles a variety of dental problems including bad odor, deteriorating cavities, and gingivitis, or so it's been said. However, such claims remain just that with scientific studies finding no link between coconut oil and it's healing capabilities.
There is evidence to support the contrary though. There have been some reported cases of stomach upsets, diarrhea, and tooth decay resulting from the use of coconut oil in a process called oil pulling.
Oil pulling, an Ayurvedic practice of swishing oil in your mouth, is not necessarily bad for you. However, it won't clean your teeth or cure anything else for that matter. The reason it makes teeth whiter is that most of the plaque buildup on your teeth is not water soluble, but fat-soluble. This means that oil pulling may create a whiter appearance, but it's not going to treat the root of the problem - making it only a short term fix, but not a true solution.
Nothing beats the expertise of a professional when it comes to teeth whitening. Don't turn to the internet for help with whitening your teeth, as it can lead you down a path of distraction, and in some cases, irreparable damage. Instead, look to your local dentist for a long-term sustainable recommendation.