The Risks Of DIY Teeth Whitening Treatments

Professional teeth whitening is very affordable, why risk attempting to do it yourself?

Perhaps the most well known and popular cosmetic dental treatment is the teeth whitening procedure. Once almost exclusive to well off celebrities, it is now widely accessible to the general public. Boosted by popular TV programmes such as Love Island, many dentists across the UK will almost certainly have seen a rise in numbers of patients seeking this treatment.

At Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, we are no exception to this. At our Canterbury practice, it is still the most widely sought after treatment for patients who want to have a beautiful smile at a reasonable price. Not everyone takes the professional route though, and we have heard of a number of people attempting to whiten their teeth at home. At best, this is likely to have very poor results. At worst, you could be doing serious harm to your teeth if you try this!

DIY teeth whitening

A quick search on the internet will give you many results on how to attempt this at home. There are instructional videos on YouTube and many ‘influencers’ have probably persuaded their younger followers especially (including those who probably don’t need the treatment) to give it a go themselves.

There are so many suggestions on DIY whitening that it would be confusing to list them all. Below, we take a look at the likelihood of success, and the risks, of some of the most popular ones below.

Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

This is one of the most popular methods that we have come across. On one level, this is understandable as this is also sometimes used as an ingredient in certain toothpastes. It is an abrasive ingredient that can remove some of the surface staining from your teeth, and in that sense, it is a relatively successful method.

There are many risks attached to this method though. As mentioned, it is the abrasive nature of the soda that removes the staining, but it is also likely to damage the protective enamel on your tooth surface. This is especially so if you use it in too strong a solution. Some suggest also adding lemon juice or strawberry to give it a nicer flavour. This makes it more acidic and even more damaging as we shall see below.

Any restorations, such as a crown, may also be at risk, as bicarbonate of soda can weaken the bonding qualities of the adhesive used to keep them in place. Like all the ‘treatments’ we will mention, please don’t try it!

Oil pulling

Like bicarbonate of soda, oil pulling is a natural method that has its adherents. Some people believe that by swilling coconut oil between the teeth, it not only pulls away bacteria but also some of the staining of your teeth. The reality is that unless your teeth are already quite white, this is unlikely to make much difference to the colour of your teeth. Some people also find that the taste and feel of it in their mouth makes them gag. Finally, some people fail to understand that discoloured teeth are often that way because of a darkening of the dentin layer, below the enamel. These treatments are very unlikely to make any difference at all where this is the case.

Lemon juice

As mentioned in the first item, adding lemon juice to the bicarbonate soda mix will add to its acidity. Some people believe that using lemon juice alone will help to not only remove some surface staining, but will also have a whitening effect deeper in the teeth. It is true that the professional teeth whitening method that we use in our Canterbury dental practice uses a form of bleaching agent to achieve whiter teeth, but this is controlled and in safe quantities to achieve its aims. The acidity level is also not an issue.

If you use lemon juice, you may see some (but probably not much) improvement – so it simply isn’t worth it. What you will almost certainly do is to erode the enamel away on the front surfaces of your teeth. This will make them more vulnerable to tooth decay and can also lead to an increased sensitivity of your teeth.

Household bleach

Suggestions to use regular bleach are, thankfully, fairly rare, but they do exist. Hopefully most of our Canterbury patients will use their common sense here, but for anyone considering using this method, don’t! You will likely destroy your teeth and probably also be in quite a lot of pain. There is also a serious medical risk if you accidentally swallow bleach. Don’t do this!

If you aren’t happy with the colour of your teeth and want them to look whiter and brighter, the most effective and safest way to do this is to have it done by a dentist. Our highly controlled treatment allows you to safely have great looking teeth in just a short period of time, without the significant risks involved with using a DIY method.

If you would like to discuss this, or any other treatment, whether cosmetic or general, please arrange to have an initial consultation by calling Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic on 01227 463529.