There’s no helping it. As you age, stains are bound to accumulate on your teeth, making your pearly whites, well, not so pearly white anymore.
And in your attempt to restore your white, sparkling teeth, you may be tempted to try one of the many different ‘natural,’ DIY teeth whitening methods featured online and in magazines–from fruit peels to oil pulling, and even apple cider vinegar.
In addition to being cheap, natural home remedies are always safer and better than teeth-whitening products that are full of artificial ingredients and scary-sounding chemicals, after all, right?
Well, not so fast.
The reality is: Just because a method is natural doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
In this article, learn how 4 popular home remedies can do more harm than good to your teeth. And, discover why dentist-supervised, commercial, medical-grade whitening kits, while a little costlier, are still your best bet.
#1 – Rinsing Mouth with Apple cider vinegar
You can find many articles on Google suggesting apple cider vinegar (ACV)–either full-strength, diluted with water, or mixed with baking soda–as a way to whiten teeth.
Due to its main active ingredient, acetic acid, ACV can indeed have a bleaching effect.
However, many sources fail to mention that:
- Tooth enamel is the hard, outer surface layer of your teeth that serves to protect against tooth decay.
- The acidity of ACV could erode the enamel.
- When enamel is worn away, the next layer of your tooth can become exposed: a softer, yellow tissue called dentin.
As such, subjecting your teeth to frequent ACV exposure can not only put you at risk of suffering from increased tooth sensitivity and cavities but also give you yellower teeth!
You wouldn’t want that now, would you?
Takeaway: Even though ACV can bleach (i.e. whiten) your teeth, you have to ask yourself this question: is the increased risk of tooth sensitivity and decay worth it?
#2 – Rubbing Lemon or orange peel on teeth
Similar to ACV, many believe that citrus fruits–such as orange and lemon peels can whiten your teeth.
Instead of swirling an acidic fluid in your mouth, though, you’ll need to do the hard work of rubbing fruit peels onto your teeth for 2 minutes.
And all that arm work will pay off.
It’s believed that the citric acid found within the peel helps break down plaque and other substances stuck to the teeth surface.
But unfortunately for all who’ve dedicated their free time to furiously tearing into oranges and lemons, then sticking the fruit peels into their mouths, citric acid can harm teeth, causing them to lose calcium.
And this, ironically, then gives teeth an off-white colour.
More bad news: once calcium is lost from your teeth, it’s irreplaceable. Think twice about using this natural teeth-whitening method!
Takeaway: Because of their high acidity levels, lemon and orange peels can leach calcium from your teeth, which then gives teeth an off-white colour. Not worth a try.
#3 – Oil Pulling
You may not know this, but oil pulling is a traditional Indian folk remedy meant to improve oral hygiene.
Don’t confuse oil pulling with the pulling process involved in your favourite teh tarik, though.
Oil pulling involves swishing oil – with the most popular option being coconut oil – around your mouth to remove bacteria (the nasty microbes that can turn into plaque and cause your teeth to appear yellow).
Even though a few studies have shown that daily oil pulling reduces plaque formation, none have so far proven that it indeed whitens teeth.
That said, it’s commonly accepted as a safe practice.
It doesn’t expose your teeth to acid or other ingredients that erode the enamel. Therefore, oil pulling might be worth a try if:
- You want to reduce plaque formation,
- Oil + Saliva + 15-20 minutes = FUUUUN TIIIIME in your books
Takeaway: Oil pulling can prevent plaque formation but has not been shown to whiten teeth per se. Due to its recognised safety, though, it may be an option for you.
#4 – Applying Activated charcoal on teeth
Due to its porous and highly absorbent nature, activated charcoal is thought to be able to remove coffee stains, wine stains, and even plaque from the teeth.
Many DIY home-whitening kits provide activated charcoal in powder or capsule form that you have to mix with water to make a paste, before applying to the teeth.
And given the ubiquity of dental products containing activated charcoal in their ingredients list, it must be an effective teeth-whitener, right?
Turns out, there’s no scientific evidence backing up activated charcoal’s benefits for teeth!
Worse still, it turns out that activated charcoal’s abrasive texture might even damage, instead of whiten teeth by wearing down tooth enamel.
Imagine your facial exfoliator (with all the beads). Except here, you’re slathering it on your teeth and using more force. If your teeth could launch just one petition on Change.org, it would be:
END ENAMEL ERODING!
Enamel erosion, as mentioned earlier, makes your teeth more sensitive and vulnerable to decay, and can make them look more yellow.
Takeaway: Be highly cautious about giving activated charcoal a try when you’re attempting to restore your teeth’s lustre–there’s a lack of evidence that proves its effectiveness and perhaps more worryingly, safety.
Be wary of natural teeth-whitening methods
Hopefully, you now realise that you should, as much as possible, avoid natural at-home teeth-whitening remedies.
Think about it:
- There are no standardised formulas or procedures created to assure safe usage.
- How many peels are you supposed to rub on your teeth?
- How would you know (like, for sure) the concentration of citric acid within the specific fruit peel you’re using?
With so many factors up in the air, you’re putting yourself at real risk of severe and permanent teeth damage.
You’ll be much safer with commercial teeth whitening products and methods.
These companies have spent thousands of hours determining a standardised application procedure that’s safe for most individuals–yourself included! And for the utmost safety, of all the whitening treatments available in the market, always go with teeth whitening that requires dental supervision. Your teeth will thank you for it.
Getting that white, bright smile shouldn’t be at the expense of your teeth’s health.
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