4 Teeth-Whitening Trends That Can Seriously Harm Your Teeth

You likely see posts on your social networking sites and on blogs that tout the biggest new teeth-whitening trends and how great they work. Most of these remedies are cheap and require only items you already have at home, which can lead you to immediately trying them before looking into whether they really work or not. Be careful, because many are not only ineffective, but they can actually greatly damage your tooth enamel. There are four methods in particular that you should avoid. 

1. Brushing with Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is sold in capsules to be administered as a poison control remedy. It absorbs some poisonous substances in the stomach when it is administered after the substances are swallowed. This has led to internet claims that it absorbs "toxins" on teeth that lead to them becoming discolored and that brushing with the powder from the inside of the capsules is a great teeth-whitening home remedy.

In reality, tooth discoloration has nothing to do with toxins. When brushing with activated charcoal, the abrasiveness of the powder can scrape off surface stains, but dentists warn that while it scrapes off stains it also scrapes off the top layer of tooth enamel. Avoid this teeth-whitening trend if you treasure your tooth enamel.

2. Brushing with Lemon and Baking Soda

This has been a popular teeth-whitening home remedy for years, and part of why this one has stuck around is because people tend to believe that anything natural (lemon) cannot be harmful, and baking soda has long been believed to be a great natural toothpaste substitute.

The fact is that lemon juice contains a very potent acid called citric acid. Combine the acidic juice with baking soda, which is abrasive, and you are literally grinding citric acid into your teeth. Dentists advise against even drinking too many beverages that contain citric acid, because this acid can destroy tooth enamel, so it is easy to see why grinding the acid into your teeth with an abrasive substance is very harmful.

3. Brushing with Crushed Strawberries and Baking Soda

This is a spinoff of the lemon and baking soda solution, and it became popular as a more tooth-enamel friendly version of the lemon version when many people realized how bad it was for enamel. Strawberries contain less acid than lemon juice. This remedy was actually put to the test by scientists, and after ten days of brushing human teeth with the solution every day, no whitening was shown.

Also, although strawberries contain less acid than lemon juice, mixing any acid with baking soda and rubbing it onto your teeth is always harmful.

4. Brushing with Sea Salt

Rinsing with a salt water solution is often recommended by dental health professionals to kill bacteria in the mouth after tooth extractions and when patients have oral wounds. Salt is a natural germ-killer. Although rinsing with salt water is fine if your dentist advises it, brushing with salt that is not dissolved is bad for your teeth. Even table salt particles are very coarse, and sea salt is even coarser. Brushing with abrasive salt scrapes off your enamel along with some surface stains. 

Your gums may even bleed after brushing with this super-coarse substance. Brushing with sea salt is a recipe for disaster. 

How to Safely Whiten Your Teeth

If you want whiter teeth, then save time and save your tooth enamel by having them professionally whitened. You can then have whiter teeth without damaging them. You have two options: in-office teeth whitening and custom-fitted trays that you can take home and use along with a special whitening solution. 

Your dentist can also tell you whether your tooth discoloration is due to surface stains or deeper stains, such as antibiotic staining. If you have deep stains, then he or she can recommend alternative solutions to obtaining the white teeth you want, such as dental veneers.