The Dangers of DIY Teeth Whitening

Everyone wants a bright and beautiful smile, and an excellent way to achieve this is by having whiter teeth. Professional teeth whitening is the most effective method there is, but sadly more people want to try whitening solutions that they can use at home. Home teeth whitening kits flood the market today, and although they do whiten your teeth, there are risks involved in doing it yourself.

Here are a few of the most popular DIY teeth whitening methods and the problems you may encounter with their use:

Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening UV Kits

DIY teeth whitening kits that use UV light to work its magic on your teeth claim to be safe. Taking its cue from the popularity of UV light-assisted tooth bleaching in many dental clinics, these DIY kits claim to use UV light to accelerate the teeth whitening process and enhance its effectiveness. The light itself does nothing to whiten the teeth, and kits like these are only as good as the photocatalytic additives that they come with.

Photocatalysts such as titanium dioxide, ferrous gluconate and zinc oxide are a few of the ingredients commonly found in tooth stain removal products that you can buy anywhere. The UV light will decompose the peroxide once your teeth are exposed to it. This results in the production of free radicals which gives the teeth a whiter look.

If the ingredients mentioned above, plus the formation of free radicals don’t put you off using this method, the study on using UV rays should make you think twice. Researchers have found out that the use of UV light for teeth whitening can put you at risk of high levels of radiation.

Studies show that using UV light to whiten your teeth is four times more dangerous than sunbathing. It can also cause toothaches, mouth infections, stomach problems, and nerve damage. Not to mention the risk of life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and cataracts.

Whitening Strips

Because of their relatively low price, teeth whitening strips have become a popular alternative to having professional at home or in-chair teeth whitening services. They are readily available in stores and can be purchased online as well — all the more reason for people to choose them over any other method.

Teeth whitening strips are also one of the easiest to apply. All you have to do is place the strips over your teeth and leave them for a few minutes before removing them. Now you can enjoy a whiter smile in under an hour.

One of the most significant drawbacks to using this method of teeth whitening is the uneven results. If you have perfectly aligned teeth, this wouldn’t be much of a problem. But straight teeth is not a gift that everybody is lucky enough to have, so the chance that the strips will sit on your teeth evenly is likely very low.

Furthermore, excessive use of these whitening strips can cause sensitivity to the teeth and gums. The recommended use of teeth whitening strips should only be one course a year. The results are just good for a few months so there’s a tendency to overuse them, especially if you smoke or drink a lot of  coffee.

Toothpaste with Bicarbonate of Soda

Bicarbonate of soda, also known as baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate), is a typical cooking and baking additive but is also an effective cleaning and whitening agent. Many toothpaste brands have incorporated bicarbonate of soda in their products as it is touted as an excellent component for removing stains from teeth caused by tobacco, tea, or coffee.

Baking soda has long been an alternative to toothpaste for cleaning the teeth as it does offer many benefits. It attacks plaque formation, fights bad breath, and helps heal painful mouth ulcers. However, toothpastes that include baking soda in their products also have their flaws.

They can weaken the tooth enamel when used repeatedly over time. This is because the power of bicarbonate of soda lies in its abrasive qualities. If you don’t use it appropriately, your teeth will become more prone to cavities and sensitivity.

Whitening Pens

Also known as paint-on tooth whitening gel or brush-on tooth whiteners, whitening pens are most commonly used for whitening one or more teeth. They come in plastic tubes that are pen-shaped and resemble a lipstick, which you rub on your teeth to make them look whiter.

These pens offer flexibility, affordability, and ease of use — the reason for their popularity. You can use them to whiten one or more of your teeth to achieve a more even appearance. It is convenient to apply as you don’t need any extra equipment to use them.

The active ingredient for most whitening pens is hydrogen peroxide which is a known bleaching agent. Like bicarbonate of soda, it can make your teeth more sensitive and can cause some mild irritation to your gums. It is useful for whitening teeth but should only be used for a limited time.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an age-old alternative health practice that uses oil for improving the condition of your teeth and gums. Essential oils are used, but coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil are the most common. The process involves swishing about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.

Oil pulling is known to kill bacteria in your mouth and whiten teeth in the process. It is effective in fighting bad breath and preventing gingivitis and tooth decay. Some advocates of this method claim its ability to reverse cavities and stimulate dental enamel repair, but there has been no evidence yet that this is true.

This method of teeth whitening isn’t for everyone. Swilling oil in your mouth for a long period of time can strain your mouth and jaw. Also, the taste can be off-putting for some.

Conclusion

Teeth whitening treatments can be very tempting to use instead of professional at-home and in-chair teeth whitening services as they are less expensive and more convenient. However, desiring whiter teeth shouldn’t pose any danger to your oral and overall health. The key here is to choose your method wisely and arm yourself with information to help you get the whiter and brighter smile you’ve always wanted.