There has been a growing trend lately towards the adoption of natural products in dental care, and teeth whitening is no exception. Patients often prefer to attempt things like teeth whitening on their own at home before undergoing a professional treatment. So without further adieu, let's take a look at some popular at-home products and how they are being used.
Sodium bicarbonate, more popularly known as baking soda, is a white powder made up of tiny crystals. When used to clean teeth, baking soda works mechanically to remove many things that adhere to the teeth. Many people consider it to be the best at-home whitening method.
Besides its mechanical effects, baking soda also has some antiseptic properties. People sometimes use it for rinsing their mouth when their gums are inflamed. It has also been used internally for problems like stomatitis. When used in the mouth, baking soda must be used cautiously, as it can damage sensitive tissues.
The problem with baking soda is that, although it helps to mechanically remove some plaque, it comes at a price. That price is in the form of lost tooth enamel. The same mechanical action that helps to remove anything found on the surface of the teeth can strip away tooth enamel. If you lose enough, you may find yourself with an entirely new set of problems, such as tooth decay.
Some people believe that pineapple can whiten the teeth. There may be some truth to it, as at least one study has found that the bromelain enzyme found in pineapples can remove some teeth stains.
The concern with pineapple as a teeth whitening method is that of its sugar content. It does you no good to whiten your teeth slightly, only to wind up with tooth decay.
Another problem is that the bromelain enzyme contained in pineapples has an affinity for protein. In other words, the soft tissues of your mouth can become damaged in the process.
No, we're not talking about the kind of charcoal that you use outdoors in your grill. This is a special form of charcoal that has been mechanically altered. And "your grill", in this case, is your teeth and smile!
Activated charcoal is some amazing stuff, with proven medical benefits. For example, hospitals routinely use it internally to help those who have come into the emergency room due to poisoning.
This form of charcoal is created using a special process that dramatically increases its surface area. Incredibly, just one gram of activated charcoal has a surface area that is six times larger than a tennis court!
The processing that charcoal undergoes to become activated charcoal produces millions of tiny pits and crevices that trap toxins and staining substances. This process is known as adsorption, as opposed to absorption. This is actually an electrical type of attraction that attracts and binds toxins, allowing your body to naturally flush them out of your system.
Unfortunately, activated charcoal is a different story when it comes to teeth whitening. Although brushing your teeth with activated charcoal may help some with minor stains, it does not come without problems. Besides the incredible mess that it can leave on your sink and on your clothes, activated charcoal has the same problem as baking soda: tooth enamel erosion.
The Bottom Line
Each of these natural DIY teeth whitening products certainly has its uses. And if you use them only rarely to brush your teeth with, you may come out okay. But most people are better off going with professional products and treatments that have a proven track record of safety, like professional teeth whitening.
Thanks for your support!
- Dr. Houlik