Everyone wishes they had a beautiful white smile and frankly teeth whitening is a relatively simple procedure. However, a quick search online will offer up multiple options of professional treatments, home solutions or natural remedies that can make anyone confused. With the aim of simplifying things, we answer some common myths that exist around the process of whitening your teeth.
How Do Teeth Become Stained
Your teeth are coated in a hard, translucent natural layer of enamel which protects the tooth underneath. Protecting and maintaining the enamel coating ultimately protects your teeth from discolouration and decay. As you age, your tooth enamel naturally becomes thinner, leaving you susceptible to discolouration of the layer beneath the enamel, known as dentin. The colour of your dentin varies from person to person and can naturally be any mix of off-white, grey or yellow.
The combination of the colours of your enamel and your dentin is what makes the colour of your teeth. Discolouration of your tooth enamel is known as extrinsic staining. This is caused by the food and beverages you consume as well as smoking. Discolouration of your dentin is known as intrinsic staining. This is caused by certain medications, trauma or injury to a tooth, tooth decay, too much fluoride & genetics.
#1 Teeth whitening treatments will whiten fillings, crowns and veneers
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Dental treatments are made of different materials that do not respond to teeth whitening treatments. Be aware of this if attempting a home teeth whitening solution. Don’t be discouraged though, you can discuss your options with your dentist as sometimes existing restorations may need to be replaced after the teeth whitening has been completed.
#2 Oil pulling with coconut oil whitens teeth
The concept behind oil pulling with edible oils is that the oil will bond to the bacteria in your mouth and cleanse your teeth when you spit out the oil. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that oil pulling will remove existing stains. While it does bond to some bacteria, it will not remove all bacteria and relying solely on oil pulling and brushing with oil can lead to tooth decay and bad breath.
#3 Abrasives such as charcoal or baking soda whitens teeth
Activated charcoal has done the rounds as a one-stop natural remedy for the body as well as being a popular home teeth whitening solution. However, there is no evidence to support charcoal being a natural teeth stain remover. It is quite a strong abrasive and if not used carefully will erode the enamel of your teeth leaving you susceptible to tooth decay and more stains penetrating the tooth. The same applies to baking soda, which is also an abrasive. Products containing either of these products will have controlled amounts and even then should be used sparingly.
#4 One type of treatment suits everyone
Everyone has naturally different shades of teeth with a different composition of enamel and varying levels of intrinsic and extrinsic teeth staining. Because of this, everyone will respond to treatments differently. Your dentist is trained in assessing your teeth and applying a whitening treatment that will work best for you.
#5 Results last forever
Teeth whitening can remove years of stains from your teeth, but it won’t last forever. Over time, lifestyle will continue to take its toll on your teeth and you will begin to see some discolouration return. This mainly depends on your dental hygiene, the foods/drinks you consume and whether you smoke. Products are available to maintain your teeth on a semi-regular basis. Alternatively, touch-up treatments can be done every few years to maintain the colour. Speak to your dentist at the time of treatment to discuss and plan a maintenance program for your teeth.
Professional teeth whitening treatments use a concentrated application of hydrogen peroxide mixture activated by a special light. The process opens the pores in the tooth enamel allowing the oxygen to remove the colour from the stains below. Home whitening strips will offer a similar process but much less concentrated. Nevertheless, be sure to always follow instructions to protect your teeth from damage and speak to a dentist prior to starting any treatments to ensure they are right for you. Everyone’s teeth are unique as are the type of discolouration they experience, professionals are trained to diagnose and treat your individual needs.