Everyone wants white, healthy-looking teeth, but professional teeth whitening can be expensive. No wonder home teeth whitening is such a hot search topic. We’re all looking to save money without (hopefully) sacrificing our pearly-whites!
Even in tough times, though, people are apparently willing to spend a little extra to ensure a winning smile. Industry analysts at IBISWorld report that, in the face of a difficult economy during 2012, the Teeth Whitening Product Manufacturing industry was still able to grow. The analysts estimated the industry’s revenues for 2012 at nearly $383 million, a 3.7% increase over 2011.
Having your teeth professionally whitened by a dentist is always the safest way to keep your teeth their brightest. But for those who are looking for a more affordable alternative, home teeth whitening products and a few homemade alternatives may be able to help. Here’s a rundown.
The basic ingredient in most whiteners: peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the key bleaching ingredients used in most tooth whitening products. Whichever type is used, the peroxide safely bubbles away on the surface of tooth enamel and helps to scrub away stains. Teeth get whiter when the concentration of peroxide is higher and when the peroxide is left in contact with teeth longer.
…gums can become irritated if the peroxide solution they contain is trapped against the gums.
There are some possible side effects of using teeth whitening products that contain peroxide, though. For example, some people temporarily experience increased tooth sensitivity after using products that contain peroxide. In addition, when using trays and strips with peroxide (see below), gums can become irritated if the peroxide solution they contain is trapped against the gums.
And here’s the kicker: after bleaching teeth with a peroxide-based product, the enamel is more receptive to new stains for 48 hours.
Home teeth whitening products for routine care
With more and more home teeth whitening products available, whitening teeth can be part of anyone’s daily oral care routine. Today, there is a variety of toothpastes and oral rinses that can help make teeth whitening at home easy and practically automatic.
Typically, toothpastes that help to whiten teeth are made with slightly abrasive particles. The abrasives help to scour away stains. However, because the abrasives used in home whitening products are not as strong as those used by dental hygienists, it may take a few days before you see noticeably whiter teeth when using whitening toothpastes alone.
…a variety of toothpastes and oral rinses can help make teeth whitening at home easy and practically automatic.
Whitening mouthwashes and rinses are also available for daily use. These generally contain a small amount of peroxide that washes away minor surface stains before they have a chance to become more permanent. Whitening rinses stay in contact with teeth for a very short time, though, which means their effectiveness is typically lower compared to whitening toothpastes. Still, using the two types of products together may help you maintain a healthy smile.
Breaking away from the routine: trays, strips, and paint-on teeth whiteners
In addition to using whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes, and rinses as part of the daily tooth care routine, a variety of additional home teeth whitening products are available. These include trays, strips, and paint-on teeth whiteners.
Dentists generally agree that using teeth whitening trays or strips delivers the most dazzling results at home. Unlike toothpastes and rinses, trays and strips keep the tooth whitening solution in contact with teeth longer, so the results are more dramatic. Achieving results that are more striking also requires a greater time commitment. To achieve the desired shade of whiteness, most manufacturers recommend using trays or strips for a specified period each day for several days.
…paint-on teeth whiteners offer yet another option.
For those who find trays and strips uncomfortable (due to sensitive teeth, for example), paint-on teeth whiteners offer yet another option. The whitener is painted directly onto the surface of teeth, so no trays or strips are needed. The paint-on whitening solution is less likely to get on the gums, where it can cause irritation.
Natural teeth whitening home remedies
Can you whiten your teeth using walnut tree bark or with banana peels? It turns out there are a few natural teeth whitening recipes you can experiment with at home.
One of the most widely recommended home tooth whiteners is baking soda. Baking soda is a safe, mildly abrasive powder that can help scour away surface stains on teeth. Similar to the solution in teeth whitening trays, baking soda can be rubbed on teeth after being mixed with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Let it remain on the tooth surface for a few minutes, and then rinse it away.
Be careful to keep the baking soda solution on your teeth only…
You can also whiten teeth by brushing with a solution of three parts baking soda and 1 part water. Be careful to keep the baking soda solution on your teeth only, though. In combination with a toothbrush, baking soda can be hard on your gums and may cause irritation.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can find numerous articles online about whitening teeth using exotic ingredients, such as fresh sage leaves, hardwood ash, and walnut bark. A word of caution, though: check with your dentist or dental hygienist before you go too far out on a limb, so to speak.
Easy does it!
While you can use simple ingredients at home to get teeth whiter, getting them their whitest (especially if there is any moderate to severe staining to begin with) will probably mean making a trip to the dentist. If you do try whitening your teeth at home using natural ingredients, be sure to go slowly and allow your teeth and gums to rest and recover between treatments.
…never repeat a natural teeth whitening treatment more than once a week until you reach the shade of whiteness desired.
A good rule of thumb is to never repeat a natural teeth whitening treatment more than once a week until you reach the shade of whiteness desired. After that, reduce treatments to once a month at most, or better still, every other month. Otherwise, you run the risk of wearing down tooth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities, and developing tooth sensitivities.
Do you have a favorite home teeth whitening solution? Let us know what has worked for you in our comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!