Many of us are attracted to the prospect of a whiter, shinier smile. With so many celebrities and social media influencers showing us daily that our life will be so much better if we had the brightest smile around, it is tempting to try and find a way to make it so. But what is the best way to whiten your teeth? Is DIY Teeth-Whitening safe? Can my teenager whiten their teeth? What about charcoal whitening? Do your teeth actually need whitening? Let’s have a closer look.

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DIY Teeth-Whitening kits

A quick internet search will show lots of teeth-whitening kits that you can order online for use at home. However, there are many problems that can arise from using these DIY kits. Many of the products available on line contain such a small amount of the active whitening ingredient that they often have absolutely no effect on the shade of your teeth and are simply a waste of money.

On the other side of things, many of these products have a much higher amount of the active whitening product than is allowed under Australian guidelines for tooth-whitening. These products can and have caused severe gum damage and chemical burns for some Australian consumers, as recently reported in the media. There has been an increase in patients coming into dental practices around the country requiring treatment for these types of injuries due to the use of DIY teeth-whitening kits, causing further pain and cost.

What about my teenager?

A lot of the pressure from social media is aimed at teenagers and young adults. The problem with teeth-whitening for under 18’s is that their dentition is not fully developed, and teeth-whitening products can actually erode their maturing tooth enamel, causing permanent damage. Often, developing teeth in these younger age groups are naturally less white in appearance than fully developed adult teeth, so they can be more inclined to want teeth-whitening. If your teen wants whiter teeth, see your dentist, who can have a look at the reason behind any staining of their teeth and can provide advice on the best solution for them.

That charcoal toothpaste looks good – does it work?

In short – no. Charcoal toothpaste has become trendy lately, with claims that it can naturally whiten teeth. However, the current evidence suggests that they may actually do more harm than good. A study published in the British Dental Journal earlier this year looked at 50 charcoal-based products. It concluded that being an abrasive product, charcoal toothpastes can scratch the enamel of the teeth, causing permanent damage. This could also make teeth more sensitive and also cause the teeth to become more yellow. It also caused discolouration of white fillings. The charcoal toothpastes also don’t contain fluoride, so regular use can actually contribute to tooth decay. If the charcoal toothpaste claims it contains fluoride, the activated charcoal can actually absorb the fluoride, rendering it useless.

So, do I actually need teeth-whitening?

There is no doubt that aesthetically, teeth-whitening can improve a smile and increase confidence. However, not everyone needs aesthetic teeth-whitening. Many patients have staining on their teeth caused by drinks such as coffee, tea, cola and red wine or stains caused by tobacco. Your dentist can let you know whether tooth-whitening will be effective for you in this situation, or if other treatment options will provide a better outcome.

What’s my best option for tooth-whitening?

If tooth-whitening is something you would like to proceed with, come and chat to us. Some patients are unsuitable to have tooth-whitening due to other problems with their teeth, and teeth-whitening is not recommended for some groups of people such as pregnant women or children under the age of 18. If you are eligible to have teeth-whitening, we can provide you with safe options that will help you achieve your goals. Give us a call, email or book online and we’ll be happy to help you.

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