The push toward natural care and hygiene products isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wanting to be an informed patient and consumer is fabulous: it means you’re proactive about your health and want to know what’s going on. Too much of a good thing, however, can be problematic. Not everything “all natural” is good for you — poison ivy, after all, is all natural, organic and grows freely but it’s definitely not going to make a list of top home remedies.
Some natural teeth whitening options are harmless but ineffective, some provide a temporary quick fix and others are downright harmful to your mouth, your teeth and your smile. Since tooth damage is costly — both financially and time-wise — to fix, here’s five things to consider before trying the new “all natural” tooth whitening quick-fix of the hour.
1. Your Mouth Is Not a Science Experiment
Of the two natural home remedies recommended by everything from old wives’ tales to Internet message board chatter, baking soda and vinegar tend to come up often for a range of day-to-day uses from cleaning carpet stains to whitening your teeth. These two ubiquitous, seemingly harmless substances can actually cause some major damage to your pearly whites, both individually and when used to create the fizzy, bubbly reaction that so many people equate with cleaning.
Baking soda is alkaline and vinegar is acidic. Barring any significant problems, your mouth maintains its own pH level — more or less neutral and neither too acidic nor too alkaline. Everything you take into your mouth from food and drink to at-home teeth whitening solutions alter this delicate balance. While normal activities only temporarily alter the pH of your mouth — something your body can naturally rebalance — intentionally pushing your mouth to one end of the spectrum or the other can cause major problems. Too acidic and your teeth begin to weaken. Too alkaline and you start to lose enamel.
Brushing with abrasive baking soda can scratch and damage your teeth, while rinsing with vinegar can weaken your teeth and leave a bad taste in your mouth. When mixed, the two cancel each other out and form salt — the fizzy bubbling that results from mixing them is visual evidence of the chemical reaction occuring. While a mix isn’t necessarily going to harm your mouth, it’s not going to do you any favors, either.
Your mouth is not a science experiment — don’t treat it as such. While the teeth whitening options available at your dentist involve chemicals, your doctor went to school for at least eight years to learn best how to safely apply them.
2. Not Everything Natural is Good
While the example of poison ivy as a natural substance that isn’t beneficial might be a bit extreme, it illustrates the point that the term “all natural” is something of a buzzword used for marketing pull. When it comes to tooth whitening, you’re aiming to lighten or remove stains and that requires some degree of abrasiveness or bleaching to achieve.
Unfortunately, not every substance that smooths off stains or bleaches them out is good for you. Rather than sink your hard-earned money into a gimmick that, at best, doesn’t work and at worst actually damages your teeth, invest in the long-term health of your smile and book an appointment. The methods and treatments used by your dentist have oversight and testing to ensure their safety — the same can’t be said for the abundance of natural teeth whitening methods and ingredients.
3. Anecdotes Aren’t Evidence
Even if Suzie from your online moms group claims AMAZING success from the tooth whitening paste from her multi-level marketing line that she’s decided to sell, that’s not hard evidence that a natural remedy works. Similarly, old wives tales and anecdotes shared on the Internet are not concrete proof of the safety or efficacy of tooth whitening methods.
Wanting to be informed of the success rate of a treatment method isn’t bad in and of itself, but an inherent mistrust of your dental health professional is misguided. Dental teeth whitening procedures and treatments are backed by large studies, bureaucratic and medical inquiries and hard science. And while it can be hard to argue with Suzie’s gleaming smile, there have likely been no studies on the long term effects of what she’s using — something your dentist can probably point you to for whatever tooth whitening method is recommended for you.
4. Your Time, Money and Smile Are Valuable
A healthy, great smile is an investment. From improving your self-esteem and social life to enhancing your general health as a whole, your dental health is valuable. And the time and money you spend on it need to be time and money well-spent.
Just like other cosmetic treatments, like those that claim to fight aging or keep unwanted pounds away, the world is full of unscrupulous snake oil salesmen looking to make their money. Rather than waste your time and money on natural remedies that don’t work or actually cause damage, speak to your dentist about gentle teeth whitening options that do work.
5. What’s Your Real Concern?
When people opt for natural remedies over in-office treatments, there’s usually some underlying concern. Rather than reach for a natural tooth whitening remedy off the bat, consider what’s really worrying you about the treatments your dentist offers. Is it that you don’t understand the chemical composition or the way the treatment works? If so, ask! Your dentist would be happy to help you understand. Is it the cost? Whether it’s effective? Whether it’s gentle or free from harm? All of these concerns can be discussed with your dentist to find the best option for you.
Natural Teeth Whitening Options and You
If you’re dead set on trying a natural teeth whitening option versus an in-office treatment, run it by your dentist first. You’ll hear the pros and cons and whether it’s likely to cause real, lasting and permanent damage to your smile. You’ll also have a chance to discuss your concerns with traditional teeth whitening options and find an option that (a) actually works and (b) works for you.
At the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur, we’re happy to walk you through your tooth whitening options, and address any concerns you may have. We also work hard to make all your cosmetic dentistry easy and convenient, often completing procedures the same day! When your smile needs perfecting, but your time is limited, give us a call at 201-560-0606 or email us here and we’ll get you fast-tracked back to eye-catching confidence.
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