There’s no doubt about it… We love white teeth.
Teeth whitening products are a huge business. They bring in more than $5 billion a year.[i]
But a new study found they come with a downside… They can damage your teeth.
The research was presented at the Experimental Biology 2019 meeting.[ii]
The scientists investigated whitening strips…probably the most popular method of over-the-counter dental whitening. These strips have a layer of gel that usually contains hydrogen peroxide.[iii]
It’s an antiseptic often used on minor injuries. It’s also the main chemical used to bleach hair. Overuse of hydrogen peroxide for bleaching can cause serious damage to the scalp. The research team wanted to know what it did to teeth.
To understand the results, you first need to know a little bit about tooth anatomy. Your teeth have three layers:
- The external enamel layer.
- The middle dentin layer.
- An inner layer of connective tissue.
The study found that hydrogen peroxide soaks through the enamel. It gets into the dentin. Dentin is 90 to 95% collagen, a protein.
When hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with collagen, it starts to break it down. This weakens the tooth.
Professor Kelly Keenan led the study. She said hydrogen peroxide in whiteners “is enough to make the original collagen disappear.”
Researchers said the damage may be permanent and irreversible.
5 Natural Tooth Whitening Alternatives
You don’t have to damage your teeth to whiten them. Try these natural techniques…
1. Baking soda. It’s mildly abrasive and will scrub away stains if you use it consistently. You can buy natural toothpaste that contains baking soda. Or you can make a paste by mixing one teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of water.
2. Apple cider vinegar. Studies show apple cider vinegar has a bleaching effect on teeth. Dilute 50/50 with water and use it as a mouthwash. Rinse with plain water afterwards. Note: Apple cider vinegar is acidic and can erode enamel if used too much. So limit it to two or three times per week.
3. Brush right after eating or drinking. This requires a bit of dedication, but it will help keep stains away. Pay special attention to dark beverages such as coffee or red wine.[iv]
4. Lemon or orange peels. Some people swear that rubbing the underside of a citrus peels on your teeth whitens them.
5. Turmeric. Many people take a turmeric supplement for heart health, to relieve joint pain, or to help balance blood sugar. But the spice can also whiten your teeth. To make a homemade whitening solution, mix two parts turmeric powder with one part coconut oil, and one part baking soda. Put a bit on your toothbrush and brush for two minutes. Rinse well. Do this once a week.[v]
There’s a dark side to commercial chemical whiteners. Keep your smile bright and your teeth healthy by using natural solutions instead.