I often get asked by patients, family and friends about whitening. Do the whitening toothpastes work? What about lasers? What about the strips? And my personal favourite – does coconut oil work?
So let me be very clear:
Yes coconut oil does have several health benefits, but no unfortunately sloshing coconut oil around your mouth for a quarter of an hour every day will not make your teeth whiter!
Since this is such a large topic we will cover it in 3 parts. Ok let’s start from beginning:
Teeth can be discoloured for several reasons, and it is so important that you see your dentist for the reasons as to why they are the colour that they are. Teeth may look yellow due to decay (rotting teeth), discoloured old fillings, and acid wear. So really going to see anyone who is not a health professional who cannot provide you with the appropriate diagnostics is not the way forward. At the end of the day if you were concerned about the discolouration of your skin would you go to your hairdresser rather than a dermatologist?
Now assuming that your teeth are free from health problems, whitening is one of the most effective and efficient ways to improve the appearance of your teeth. It’s very safe and no long term detrimental health effects have been proven.
Some whitening toothpastes however can be ineffective and cause more harm than good. They basically have abrasive particles which wear down the teeth, and although they aim to remove stains from the teeth, they often damage the enamel.
Let’s talk lasers. Lasers seem to be the Holy Grail to solve all our problems in today’s world. Too much hair? Let’s do some laser. Don’t like your tattoo? That’s ok. Let’s get out the laser. Bad skin? Let’s zap those bad boy pimples. However I do have some bad news guys. Laser tooth whitening is not effective. The idea is that you have whitening gel placed on your teeth. Sit there with your mouth open for an hour or two and a Star Wars still light is shone upon your mouth. Now although this may make you feel intergalactic, the actual impact on whitening your teeth is dubious. Yes your teeth do look whiter but that is actually due to dehydration. So the teeth are deprived of saliva and your dehydrated teeth appear white.
Often you need to ‘top up’ the effects with the home whitening kits- the actual most effective form of tooth whitening.
Now let’s briefly touch on the strips. Strips can be effective, indeed they do have the ingredients to provide the necessary chemical reaction. However they are not legal in the UK yet and again let’s be clear about self-diagnosing. You must be absolutely sure as to why your teeth are yellow. If you were sick and had no idea why, would you immediately rush to Boots and buy the medication or would you rather get an opinion from your GP?
Next time I’ll cover the harsh reality of illegal tooth whitening.
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