Over the years the teeth tend to lose their characteristic white tone and as a result we observe an aged or unsightly smile.
For this reason, many patients turn to homemade solutions to whiten their yellow teeth without damaging them and quickly, such as whitening toothpastes, certain foods, pharmacy whitening or very aggressive home remedies for both the gum and the tooth.
You have to watch, because not everything is rosy!
To try to resolve doubts about an issue that greatly concerns patients, we will briefly explain what whitening consists of and then we will review why only products administered by the dentist have the ability to effectively whiten your teeth and take care of the health of your mouth.
What is teeth whitening?
Whitening consists of the application of different products on the surface of the tooth with the aim of eliminating extrinsic or intrinsic stains that occur over time.
1. Remove extrinsic stains:
The removal of extrinsic stains, which are those that occur as a result of the patient’s habits, are relatively easy to remove.
These stains are eliminated thanks to the daily hygiene of the patient, certain toothpastes and products that are used during professional cleaning or prophylaxis.
2. Remove intrinsic stains:
To eliminate intrinsic stains, which are those that over the years yellow the tooth from the inside, it is necessary to resort to products capable of penetrating the dental structure and which are known as whitening.
This type of professional teeth whitening treatment is done through products such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide and their use must be supervised by the dentist as they can have negative consequences for the tooth if they are not used properly.
When administering these gels, the pore of the tooth undergoes a chemical reaction that is what causes bleaching.
However, it is very important that these substances do not penetrate the pulp of the tooth, since in doing so they cause the discomfort and inflammation that sometimes accompany these treatments.
Ways, myths and recommendations of whitening at home:
Do whitening pastes work?
The whitening pastes act on the extrinsic stains of the tooth, by means of the abrasive substances that compose them, eliminating stains produced by tea, red wine, tobacco or certain foods.
However, when this type of stain has penetrated the enamel more intensively or if it is impregnating fissures or grooves, it can hardly be removed with this type of whitening product.
Whitening pastes can be useful after whitening or in patients with certain habits, but it should be taken into account that their main function is due to the mechanical effect of the brush itself.
In addition, since it does not have anticaries or antigingivitis agents, its use does not prevent the most important problems for the patient’s oral health.
Are there foods that help or harm?
There are no foods that, eaten in just enough measure, can whiten teeth.
Some home remedies to whiten your teeth that are seen online recommend using lemon, however, lemon and in general citrus fruits, consumed in excess, are highly harmful products for the teeth.
Its abrasive effect causes a very typical demineralization in these patients that greatly increases the risk of tooth decay and also increases tooth sensitivity.
In this sense, what does exist are foods that cause the opposite effect, that is, they stain the teeth, and that should be consumed in a moderate way if you want to avoid having dark teeth.
These foods are red fruits, beets, spinach, red wine or dark teas among others.
Do pharmacy whitening work?
Pharmacy whitening are made up of the same products as clinic ones, but due to European regulations, the concentration of pharmacy whitening cannot exceed 1%.
Taking into account that the products in the clinic have at least a concentration of 6%, and can reach 35% on certain occasions, it is easy to understand that their whitening power is minimal if not practically zero.
Hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening?
The use of hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth or even to cleanse the gums is relatively widespread among some patients and the effect of hydrogen peroxide is highly harmful to the teeth and gums.
I remember once when I was operating on a patient and when I began to separate the gum from the tooth to access hygiene, I could see how the superficial layers of the gum flaked in a very strange effect that worried me and made it very difficult for me to treat soft tissues.
When I asked the patient if she was taking any type of specific action to take care of her teeth or if she was taking a lot of citrus fruits, she told me that she rinsed her mouth with hydrogen peroxide every night.
We told the patient to stop using hydrogen peroxide immediately and to use a commercial Listerine- type mouthwash if necessary, to have a greater sense of cleanliness.
In this regard, I would just like to add that in most cases the use of mouthwashes is not necessary and that their cost-benefit is not very favorable for the patient.
It should be the dentist who recommends the need to use these products.
Daily and professional brushing and hygiene
Daily hygiene by the patient with specific whitening pastes is a good resource for removing shallow extrinsic stains.
However, it should be borne in mind that the abuse of this type of pastes is not recommended for the tooth and it should be alternated with other antiplaque or antigingivitis pastes.
On the other hand, annual or semi-annual dental cleaning at the dentist is mandatory and thanks to the use of polishing pastes or bicarbonate spray it also allows the most difficult extrinsic stains to be removed quickly and safely.
Conclusions on teeth whitening at home
There is no natural product or home remedy capable of whitening or changing the color of the tooth to a whiter one effectively, quickly and “safely”.
However, there are several things you can do to keep your teeth as white as possible:
- Limit consumption of certain foods
- Do two daily brushings
- Carry out dental hygiene at least a year
- Brush three times a week with a whitening paste
These are the habits that will help you keep your teeth white and healthy longer.