Teeth whitening is a booming business both in cosmetic dentistry and on the drugstore shelves. While there are some over-the-counter products that can offer mild whitening results, only a visit to the dentist can give you a truly pearly white smile.
Many at-home whitening suggestions are either ineffective or risk doing more harm than good.
Here are three at-home teeth whitening methods you should skip in favor of a visit to the dentist chair.
Hydrogen Peroxide Gargle
Most professional and over-the-counter whitening products contain carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent. Carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. The level of hydrogen peroxide in a whitening agent maxes out around 40 percent for the super potent whitener applied by a dentist. Over-the-counter products have a far lower concentration of peroxide.
Many people think that they should be able to replicate the effects of a tooth whitener by simply gargling its active ingredient, right? Not so fast.
For starters, even if you dilute the hydrogen peroxide, it can be overly harsh on your teeth at that concentration. This can cause tooth sensitivity and potential soft tissue damage. Peroxide also isn't safe to swallow in this form, so you risk essentially poisoning yourself in the hopes of getting a whiter smile.
Cheap OTC Whitening Trays
Cosmetic dentists sometimes use a whitening tray that looks a bit like a retainer filled with bleaching fluid. The tray fits tightly over teeth and can be reused, which makes this a great option for patients to take home and continue bleaching over a scheduled period.
Cheap over-the-counter whitening trays try to compete with the dental trays. But the one-size-fits all approach to those trays means you could end up having an overly tight or overly loose tray.
An overly tight tray can cause gum abrasions and over-saturate your teeth in the potentially harmful bleaching solution included. A loose tray risks spilling the cleaning solution all over your gums and tongue where the bleaching agent can cause irritation.
Baking Soda Paste
Operating under the similar logic as the hydrogen peroxide gargle, many people believe that making a paste out of baking soda will whiten their teeth. After all, baking soda is another whitening agent found in both professional and retail products.
Baking soda is abrasive, which is part of the reason it is used in both whitening products and some toothpastes. Straight baking soda with a little bit of water is far more abrasive than using a product that contains a small percentage of baking soda.
Using a baking soda paste to brush your teeth likely won't create any lasting whitening effects. The paste can pose a risk to the protective enamel layer on your teeth, which can lead to sensitivity if the enamel is damaged.
For more information on how a dentist can help you on your tooth whitening mission, go to a site like http://accentdentalnwi.com/.