Episode 018 | Tooth Whitening – Risks, Benefits & Methods
Hello again and a warm welcome to episode # 018 of Elmar´s Tooth Talk – The missing link to total health. I am Dr Elmar Jung.
So, before we start, let me tell you What’s in it for you in this episode:
We talk about:
– WHAT you must know about tooth whitening
– WHEN not to whiten your teeth
– WAYS to whiten your teeth
– RISKS and benefits
– PROS and cons of different tooth whitening methods
– HOW to make your own tooth whitening toothpaste
– HOW to whiten your teeth without chemicals
– WHAT You can do if your teeth become sensitive after whitening
Today we discuss a procedure that has long been in high demand by dental patients: tooth whitening. Also known as bleaching.
It’s no secret that most of us want shiny white teeth.
The global tooth whitening market value amounted to about 3.15 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 and is forecasted to grow to 3.78 billion U.S. dollars by 2021 and to more than 6 billion US dollars in 2027. It is BIG business!
Not only Hollywood wants white gnashers. All over the world people are following the mantra, the bigger and whiter your smile, the younger, healthier and better you feel. And we all no – nothing could be further from the truth because real beauty, real health and real feel-good come from the inside. But that’s a different story all together.
How does Teeth Whitening Work?
Tooth “whitening” is defined as any process that will make teeth appear whiter.
There are two ways this is commonly done: bleaching and non-bleaching whitening products.
Often the terms “bleaching” and “whitening” are used interchangeably, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states the term “bleaching” can only be used when a product contains bleach.
A product is considered simply “whitening” when it removes food or debris from the teeth without bleach.
Bleaching products contain peroxide (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) and these products remove both surface and deep stains on teeth and can cause teeth to become even lighter than their natural shade.
But is the yearn for that radiant white smile as safe and effective as it is advertised?
According to research by the British Dental Journal, teeth whitening toothpastes slow down the re-discolouration process, but the actual results don’t seem to match the promotional claims.
Much more important than wasting money on a product that doesn’t work, is to be aware of putting your health at risk with unsafe products and procedures.
Most methods target discolouration of food and drink trapped in the tooth surface. Toothpastes try to remove them while procedures containing hydrogen peroxide discolour them.
According to the latest EU guidelines, the maximum concentration of hydrogen peroxide in tooth whitening gels should be 6%.
Why You should Talk with Your Dentist before Embarking on a Whitening Journey
Teeth can only be successfully bleached if they are clean and free of caries. It is therefore recommended to have your teeth professionally cleaned by the dentist or hygienist before such a procedure.
Tooth bleaching can make teeth temporarily sensitive or rather uncomfortable for people who already have sensitive teeth.
To be sure tooth-whitening is worth your time and money, talk to your dentist before you use an over-the-counter tooth whitening kit.
Are you a Candidate for Tooth Whitening?
Tooth whitening is considered safe for most people and the best candidates to benefit most are those who only have mild to moderate discolouration.
You must know that composite or porcelain veneers, dental crowns, any kind of fillings do not do not change their colour. This means that after bleaching, some restorations may need to be renewed to adjust to the new colour.
Tooth whitening only works on the natural tooth.
If you already suffer from sensitive teeth this may become worse if your teeth are bleached.
Studies have shown that the best results are achieved with yellow teeth and to a lesser degree with brown teeth.
If your teeth are grey or you have a dead or root treated tooth, tooth whitening might not work at all.
Tooth discolouration caused by the antibiotic tetracycline has only minor chances of successful whitening.
And not every method achieves the same results with all people. Each tooth has its own maximum whitening capacity, and that’s it – nothing more.
When NOT to whiten your teeth?
There are times or circumstances when tooth whitening is not recommended. For example
- if you are pregnant – as a precaution
- If you have gingivitis – this should be treated first
- If your teeth are very sensitive – they could become even more sensitive
- If you still have amalgam fillings in your mouth – due to the chemical reaction with the peroxide
Tooth Whitening Options
When it comes to tooth-whitening, you’ve got three options:
- Teeth whitening by the dentist
- Teeth whitening with dentist prescribed at-home bleaching kits or
- over the counter at-home whitening.
Whether you use an at-home tooth-whitening system, or have your teeth bleached by a dentist, you can help maintain the results by a thorough oral hygiene regime with blotting brushes, tongue scraping and rinsing with a gentle mouthwash such as warm water with some Celtic sea salt.
There are some foods and beverages that pose the risk of discolouring your teeth due to their acidic and tannin-rich properties such as:
- Black tea and coffee,
- Red wine,
- herbs such as turmeric
- Sports drinks
- Carbonated beverages, dark and light-coloured sodas
- Berries, beets and other strongly coloured foods
- Sauces such as soy, tomato or curries
What tooth whitening procedures are there?
1. Teeth Whitening Chewing Gums
This is an inexpensive way to whiten your teeth if you’re already chewing gum. It will most likely take a few weeks before you can see any results.
With this option of teeth whitening, you should always pay attention to the ingredients in the chewing gum, such as flavourings, plasticizers, sweeteners, fillers, artificial colours, stabilizers and the like, which are not exactly used to maintain health.
In addition, no matter what you chew, chewing gives your digestive tract the signal “attention, food is on its way”. Digestive enzymes are then produced, which find no work and can attack the intestinal walls.
And if you still have amalgam fillings, I strongly advise against chewing gum, because chewing contributes to even more mercury vapour being released from the amalgam fillings. A great way to poison yourself even further.
2. Whitening Toothpaste
Even with commercial tooth whitening toothpaste, as with chewing gum, you don’t need to make any major changes to your habits other than using a different toothpaste and the costs are around 10 pounds.
It is important to pay attention to the ingredients that cause abrasion as they can damage the enamel and make teeth more sensitive.
3. Home tooth whitening kits
This is a somewhat more expensive but very popular do -it-yourself option of whitening and costs up to around 100 pounds. Here you can count on improvements of up to 6 colour degrees.
Again, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients.
If phosphoric acid is used instead of hydrogen peroxide, it is essential to ensure proper handling, as otherwise it can cause damage.
When used incorrectly, home kits can also lead to burned gum.
You also have to pay attention to how well the supplied standardized teeth whitening splints fit, because this contributes significantly to success.
You fill the gel into the splints provided and wear them for several nights until the desired result is achieved. This can take a few weeks.
WhiteSmile offers home bleaching with a dual-light technology.
The blue light whitens your teeth while the red/blue light claims it helps provide protection against sensitive gums, tooth decay, gum inflammation and bad breath.
The LED device is wireless & rechargeable.
Advantages according to the manufacturer:
- Water resistant
- Cruelty free
- 100% vegan
- Fast results within 4-5 days and only 10 minutes a day application
4. Rule of Thumb
Generally, the longer you keep a stronger solution on your teeth, the whiter your teeth become.
However, the higher the percentage of peroxide in the whitening solution, the shorter it should be applied to the teeth. Keeping the gel on longer will dehydrate the tooth and increase the tooth sensitivity.
- Home whitening kits prescribed by your dentist
Home whitening kits can also be purchased from the dentist and represent a much safer alternative to kits purchased over the internet. In addition, the dentist provides you with individually adapted trays for gel application.
The close fit of the trays keeps the gel in place, preventing it from extruding out onto the gum tissue and causing irritation.
- More affordable than in-office whitening by the dentist
- High success rate
- Less post-treatment discomfort
5. Teeth whitening at the dentist
Tooth whitening in the dentist’s chair is seen as the method that achieves the best, fastest and longest lasting results, uses the strongest bleaching solutions, offers the highest safety standard in terms of correct execution, uses heat or light or a combination to speed up and intensify the process and, for all those benefits, requires the highest financial investment starting from a few hundred pounds.
Dental tooth whitening can achieve an improvement between 6 to 16 shades.
Depending on the procedure, the entire treatment takes between a few minutes, 1-1.5 hours and three weeks.
There are different tooth whitening procedures available to the dentist.
For a while now, laser procedures have been the most popular. Here the laser is used to expose the gel, usually hydrogen peroxide, and thus accelerate the whitening process.
Here are two of these laser procedures:
The first one is from a company called ENLIGHTEN
Advantages according to the manufacturer:
- Guaranteed lightening of up to 16 shades
- Refresh the lightening at home overnight
- Lightening lasts up to five years
- You will see the difference within a few days
- You can determine the degree of lightening
- Takes up to three weeks
- Tooth sensitivity can occur
- No red wine, coffee or tomatoes during the treatment
The second one is called ZOOM White Speed
Advantages according to the manufacturer:
- Only one treatment of approximately an hour is necessary
- Lightening by up to six shades
- Tooth sensitivity can occur
- Teeth only stay whitened for about one to a maximum five years
6. Tooth whitening of dead and root canal treated teeth
What do you do if you have a root treated or dead tooth and want this bleached?
Well, if you ask me, I will tell you to have the decomposing, rotting, trouble causing thing out of your body as fast as you can.
But then there are people who love to believe whoever tells them that root canals and dead teeth are no problem why would they even think of removing this teeth if they don’t cause pain.
As a regular listener to my podcast you will gather that I’m not in favour of having dead teeth in your mouth in the first place and even less in favour of drilling or treating these teeth which will only increase the release of more toxins into your body. Episode six and seven of Elmar’s Tooth Talk discusses root canals and their health benefits …
However, if you decide to keep such a decomposing rotting tooth in your mouth and aim to whiten it, your dentist is the man to do so. He places the whitening material inside the tooth, closes the entrance spot and the material remains there for a few days until the desired whitening success has been achieved – if it does occur.
This treatment must be repeated at different intervals, as the teeth usually continue to discolour over time because they keep rotting.
7. Micro abrasion teeth whitening
If the teeth are so discoloured that teeth bleaching cannot bring the hoped-for success, then there is the possibility of removing the discolouration from the tooth enamel by means of micro abrasion, a kind of abrasive polish.
A liquid with approx. 15% phosphoric or citric acid is applied to the discoloured area and then an abrasive polish is carried out.
Afterwards a lining of composite or bonding can be applied to seal the enamel.
Aren’t there any non-chemical, natural ways of whitening?
8. Whiten teeth with oil pulling
A few years ago, I successfully whitened my own teeth using this method. It took much longer than any of the options described so far, it actually took me three months and it whitened my teeth about 2 – 3 shades which isn’t that much BUT it was guaranteed to be harmless.
I only discovered it as a side effect of my morning ritual and of course I was excited.
So here we go a safe, cheap and natural way – if it works for you too.
How does oil pulling work?
It’s very easy. Put a teaspoon of organic coconut oil in your mouth and pull it vigorously through your teeth for 20 minutes. Then spit the oil into the bin, rinse your mouth thoroughly and thoroughly clean your teeth, tongue and cheeks.
Whole books have been written about the positive effects of oil pulling.
9. Make your own toothpaste
You can also make your own tooth whitening toothpaste.
Mix sodium bicarbonate, Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt and 3% hydrogen peroxide to a thick paste and off you go.
Regardless of which method you choose, first of all inquire exactly about the realistically expected success, the likely duration of the treatment, whether the whitening will continue after treatment and of course the possible side effects and risks.
Now you had your teeth whitened and it looks great, you are really happy but your one of the unlucky ones because your teeth are now very sensitive.
What to do if your teeth become sensitive after whitening?
Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common side effects of teeth whitening.
If you have ever whitened your teeth in the past, you are probably familiar with the sensitive, tingly feeling that can appear after the treatment. This level of sensitivity varies from person to person, with some feeling little to no pain and others experiencing stronger discomfort.
This is due to the fact that enamel strength varies greatly from person to person.
Typically, the sensitivity lasts only for a couple of days but for some people it can become a constant companion.
Here are some natural ways that can help reduce your tooth sensitivity:
- Saltwater rinse
- Sea salt & Baking soda mix
- Oil rinsing with coconut or sesame oil
- Aloe vera gel
- Green tea
- Guava leaves – chew some leaves
- Cloves – chew some cloves
- Garlic – chew some garlic or make a paste
- Onions – same as garlic
- Wheatgrass juice
- Vitamin B1 – 100mg/day
If your teeth are sensitive, common sense will tell you to stay away from:
Sodas, ice cream, hot & cold drinks, candy, toffee, acidic food & fruits, tomatoes and use a soft toothbrush such as the Blotting Brush
Finally, remember that no matter what whitening treatment you choose, the results won’t last forever.
Foods, drinks, smoking, and medications can re-stain your teeth. Maintenance is required, no matter what whitening product you choose.
So, I trust I could bring some more wisdom into your home and as always it was a great pleasure to have you here.
This is Elmar’s Tooth Talk, The missing link to total health. Until next time. Bye for now.
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