Natural vs. Cosmetic Teeth Whitening

Natural vs Cosmetic teeth whitening
17 Sep 2021

White teeth are one of those things that can make a world of difference to your appearance. They brighten your smile, make you look younger, and even help you present yourself with confidence.

However, there are many myths about the best way to whiten your teeth. This can lead to teeth whitening mishaps that do more harm than good. Here, we compare natural vs. cosmetic teeth whitening to help you achieve a healthier white smile, without causing damage.

Natural Whitening Myths Debunked

First, let’s look at some of the common natural whitening myths that can lead to dental woes:

  • Oil pulling: Swirling coconut around in your mouth to remove plaque won’t do any harm to your teeth, but it also won’t do any good. There really is no evidence that oil pulling whitens teeth, and you’ll realize it soon enough when you fail to see results.
  • Baking soda: This is the go-to natural whitening method thanks to its abrasive nature, which is supposed to reduce stains. However, baking soda does not whiten teeth, and the abrasive action might be too harsh and thus harm your teeth. It can also kill the friendly bacteria you need in your mouth for good oral health.
  • Apple cider vinegar: This vinegar will kill bacteria, but it is far too acidic to be safe to use on your teeth. Avoid this if you want to keep your enamel intact.
  • Fruit: Fruit is a healthy snack with several types offering oral health benefits including many tropical fruits, apples, and strawberries. However, applying fruit directly to your teeth, especially highly acidic lemons, damages your enamel while offering little to zero whitening results.
  • Activated charcoal: This porous carbon is abrasive and does actually remove surface stains. Unfortunately, it also damages enamel, so we do not advise using it.

With so little evidence to go on for these being effective teeth whitening solutions, it seems there’s far more proven negative effects for these natural whitening options.

Cosmetic Whitening Myths Debunked

Now that we’ve explored the most common natural whitening method myths, let’s look at common cosmetic and over-the-counter options:

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Because this is the main ingredient used in teeth whitening products, including professional whitening treatments, some people think it is safe to use. However, when purchased on its own, it damages tissues thus causing them to age faster. Never use this substance in your mouth straight from the bottle, as it is very dangerous.
  • Whitening toothpaste and whitening gum: These products simply don’t have enough ingredients to have any whitening effect on your teeth.
  • At-home whitening gel: These products can get results, as they contain the same active ingredient as professional whitening products, carbamide peroxide, or hydrogen peroxide. However, there are a few major differences. First, the level of the active ingredient is weaker than professional whitening gels. Second, when applying your DIY whitening products, you may apply it unevenly. Last, you are far more likely to experience uncomfortable tooth sensitivity from DIY kits.

So, where does that leave us when it comes to teeth whitening? Is there really no option that is safe and effective?

Effective Teeth Whitening

The answer is yes. The best option is professional teeth-whitening services. Professional whitening offers you a healthy white smile while avoiding common issues that you encounter with natural and over-the-counter options. You have the perfect amount of active ingredients to see results. The process helps remove discolouration and staining that you can’t remove with other treatments.

You also reduce risk for tooth sensitivity. This is because we apply protection to your teeth to avoid contact with areas that lead to pain and sensitivity. Your gums and cheeks are also not exposed to damage, as we are very precise in the application thus ensuring the gel doesn’t come into contact with sensitive soft tissue. You won’t experience the irritation that many patients feel when they use DIY whitening products. However, you will see noticeable results with a whiter smile.

Understanding Teeth Discolouration

It’s also very important to understand not just how to best whiten your teeth, but also what types of stains can be removed:

  • Extrinsic: These are surface stains caused when dark pigments from food and drink build up on the film on your teeth. This film is protein covering your tooth enamel. Because they are on the surface, often these discolourations are removed through your regular dental hygiene appointments. For remaining stains, they can be addressed with teeth whitening treatments.
  • Intrinsic: Because these stains are below the surface, they are more difficult to whiten. As a result, you definitely need professional cosmetic whitening to see a change in colour.
  • Age-related: As the name implies, these stains accumulate over time. They consist of both extrinsic and intrinsic stains, which makes them more pronounced. Even when stains are removed, your teeth remain yellower than a younger person because your enamel thins as you age. This means more of the natural yellow of the dentin below shows through.

Regardless of the type of discolouration you have on your teeth, there are cosmetic treatments available to whiten your smile. While cosmetic teeth whitening might not resolve every issue, other options such as bonding, veneers, and even crowns can help you enjoy a brighter smile.

If you are interested in teeth whitening in Guelph, or other cosmetic treatments speak to our team at Guelph Family Dentistry today. Call us at 888-250-8819 or contact us here.

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Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi
Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi

Dr. Omar got his BDS degree in 2002 from the University of Baghdad. He has also completed a master degree in Prosthetic Dentistry from the University of Malaya, Malaysia in 2009. Dr. Omar got his DDS in 2013 in Canada after passing the National Dental Examination Board of Canada (NDEB) exams. Read More

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