If eyes are the gateway to the soul, then a smile is a glimpse into an individual’s personality. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, a person’s smile is one of the very first things people notice about them, with a staggering 96% of surveyed individuals stating that a smile is important to a person’s appearance.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that over 45 million Americans (a staggering 14% of the entire population) have paid for professional teeth whitening at the dentist. Yet, some, in an attempt to save a few dollars, attempt to whiten teeth on their own, in sometimes dangerous and damaging ways.
This quarter, social media sensation and licensed dental hygienist, Avalene Roberts, exposes some of the biggest myths behind ‘at home’ teeth whitening remedies, and why teeth whitening is best left to the professionals.
Teeth Whitening Myths Exposed
Brushing with Mouthwash: Mouthwash is often made with a high percent of alcohol. Alcohol has been shown to damage natural teeth, as well as work done by a dentist (such as fillings, crowns, etc.). According to the Journal of Conservative Dentistry and the International Journal of Dentistry, alcohol-free mouthwash is preferred. Brushing with an alcohol-based mouthwash won’t whiten teeth says, Avalene, but it will damage enamel.
Brushing with Lemons: This old myth suggests that the acidity of lemons may in some way remove stains. In reality, the only thing that brushing with lemons will do is make mouths pucker from the sour while the acidity eats away at the enamel. Over time this can cause significant damage to the teeth’s protective coating, making them more susceptible to cavities, decay and breaking.
Brushing with Strawberries: It has been rumored that brushing with strawberries may act to break down particles staining teeth. The thought is that the naturally occurring malic acid in this fruit will act to remove existing stains. Unfortunately, and similarly to lemons, use of fruit (especially acidic) fruit in this manner can do more harm than good.
Brushing with Activated Charcoal: Charcoal is made from elemental carbon. Carbon has a naturally high affinity for forming bonds with other elements and atoms to form new molecules. Because of this, charcoal is often used to remove odors, stains, for cleaning up chemical spills and more. This has led some to use activated charcoal when brushing their teeth, hoping that the same absorptive properties of the carbon will attach to and remove stains. Although there is some evidence to suggest that carbon’s properties combined with the mildly abrasive nature of activated charcoal may work to remove some surface-level stains, it is highly ineffective at removing stains below the enamel and will do little to ‘whiten’ teeth.
Brushing with Hydrogen Peroxide: Many commercially available ‘over the counter’ teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide, leading some consumers to think that they can simply brush with bottled hydrogen peroxide to achieve the same whitening effect. According to studies published in the Journal of Dentistry (2004 and 2007), commercial teeth whitening products often contain hydrogen peroxide with a concentration between 10-25%, while bottled liquid hydrogen peroxide found in most supermarkets is diluted to around 3%. These same studies found that diluted hydrogen peroxide had little or a significantly reduced effect on whitening teeth.
Brushing with Salt: Table salt is mildly abrasive, and as such, some believe that it may aid in removing stains and whitening teeth. Although mild abrasives are used in some kinds of toothpaste and touted as a whitening solution, table salt and baking soda will do little to remove anything but the mildest of surface-level stains. Further, this type of regular abrasion may wear down enamel and damage teeth over time.
About Avalene Roberts
Working out of beautiful bustling New York, Avalene Roberts is a social media influencer and licensed dental Hygienist. She is passionate about health, wellness and teeth, using her social platforms to raise awareness about preventative care, the life and role of a dental hygienist, and how to pursue a career in dentistry.
Those interested in following her on social media are encouraged to like, follow or subscribe on the following channels:
Company Name: Avalene.R
Contact Person: Avalene Roberts
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Address:99 Wall Street #1493
City: New York
State: New York
Country: United States