The Internet is both a wonderful resource and a source of damaging misinformation. Before you take any medical advice from a random website out there, you should talk to a doctor or dentist about it.
Here’s a perfect example of how the Internet can steer people wrong. Many people looking for teeth whitening options to achieve a brighter smile at home will stumble across a DIY (do-it-yourself) teeth whitening formulation that sounds reasonable.
For example, a popular home remedy states, “Just mix together strawberries, baking soda, and water for an all-natural, non-toxic teeth whitening alternative.” The only problem is: new research shows that it’s not effective and could damage teeth.
To evaluate the effectiveness of whitening, researchers at the University of Iowa used 120 recently extracted teeth. The teeth were exposed to a number of different whitening conditions, including the DIY formula, over-the-counter whitening strips, take-home whitener from the dentist, in-office whitening, positive controls, and negative controls.
Researchers simulated all methods according to instructions, including the DIY whitener, which online recommendations said should be used three times over ten days. At the end of this period, they measured the effects of the whiteners using three different methods: a spectrometer and two different color guides.
The results showed that all teeth whitening methods produced measurable results, except DIY whitening.
Damage Caused by Whitening
Researchers also looked at the potential impact of the DIY whitener on the health of teeth. They used microhardness testers to test the surface characteristics of teeth subjected to all methods of whitening. They found that, as expected, none of the teeth whitening methods led to an appreciable decrease in the hardness of teeth, except for DIY whitening.
This means that the DIY whitening actually softens your teeth, leading to a potential for increased erosion. Even if this DIY treatment produced an initial whitening effect, eventually your teeth would turn yellow as it wore away your tooth enamel. Since it doesn’t lead to whitening, you’d just be damaging your teeth for no reason.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read Online
Much of the home remedies out there are promoted with a supposed or explicit statement that these approaches are actually better for you than anything your doctor or dentist might be able to do for you. But the truth is that your dentist is looking out for you and your teeth. If there were a better way to do teeth whitening, we’d use it.