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The Dangers of DIY Smile Whitening

added on: December 20, 2019

smiling girlIf you’ve surfed the internet at all over the last few years, chances are you’ve seen claims of how certain DIY smile whitening treatments can transform your teeth. While we understand how tempting it can be to try these easy and affordable trends to get a brighter, whiter smile, your dentist in Overland Park wants you to know that they don’t come without risks. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular DIY smile whitening treatments and how they can actually negatively affect your oral health instead of helping it.

Activated Charcoal
Perhaps the most popular at-home smile whitening treatment is brushing with activated charcoal. If you’ve seen photos of people with black teeth and a mouth full of black spit, you know what we’re talking about. Supporters of activated charcoal claim that it pulls out stains from the teeth and can give you a whiter smile. However, your dentist in Overland Park knows that activated charcoal isn’t only super messy to use, it also has risks. Since charcoal is abrasive in nature, using it or brushing with it can damage enamel, which is concerning. Once tooth enamel is gone there’s no way to get it back, which can make teeth more sensitive and at more risk for decay and cavities.

Oil Pulling
Another up-and-coming popular smile whitening treatment is oil pulling. The concept of oil pulling has been around for thousands of years. The idea behind it is that by swishing coconut oil around in your mouth and between your teeth for 20 minutes, you can kill bacteria and even whiten teeth. The immediate downside that we see is that it takes 20 minutes of moving melted oil around in your mouth. But more so, there is no research to either prove or disprove the effectiveness of oil pulling in whitening teeth or leading to better oral health.

Baking Soda
Brushing with baking soda may not be a new trend but it is still very popular. You can even find toothpaste at the store that promote the ingredient. Now, despite activated charcoal and oil pulling, there is some evidence that baking soda can whiten teeth, but only a little bit. Additionally, baking soda is also abrasive and can wear down tooth enamel which, as we know, can increase tooth sensitivity and the likelihood for decay and cavities.

Lemon Juice 
Applying lemon juice to teeth or brushing or swishing with lemon juice is yet another dangerous way that people have tried to whiten their teeth. Lemon juice is very, very acidic and very, very bad for tooth enamel. Too much acid in our diet alone can weaken enamel and put teeth at risk. But applying acidic lemon juice directly to our teeth or exposing our teeth to it for long periods of time can absolutely damage enamel fairly quickly.

Your dentist in Overland Park understands that everyone wants to have a bright, sparkling white smile. But before you dive into trying one of the “latest and greatest” DIY smile whitening trends at home, we encourage you to talk with a dental professional to help you find the safest and best way to whiten your teeth.