DIY Teeth Whitening Doesn’t Work, Damages Teeth

Oct 15, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

Practically everyone is looking to whiten their teeth these days. And practically everyone is looking for ways to use homemade, do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions that allow them to avoid paying for sometimes expensive services.

Enter the DIY teeth whitening solution, in which people follow a recipe they found on the Internet to try to whiten their teeth. Unfortunately, research shows that this approach isn’t just ineffective, it’s potentially damaging to teeth.

A Teeth Whitening Researcher

A woman's bright, white smileThe information about DIY whiteners comes from a relatively young dental researcher at the University of Iowa (UI) who has focused her work on teeth whitening. She has looked at the effectiveness of DIY whiteners and their impact on teeth in a number of experiments. The particular formula she looked at was a combination of strawberries and baking soda, commonly recommended online.

To look at the effectiveness of whitening, Dr. So Ran Kwon subjected 120 recently extracted teeth to a variety of teeth whitening methods. In addition to the DIY whitening, over-the-counter strips, a take-home whitener from the dentist, and in-office teeth whitening were all tested, along with positive and negative controls.

She brushed the extracted teeth with the DIY mixture three times over the course of ten days, as online instructions recommend. She also applied the take-home whitener, strip whitener, and in-office whitener to simulate the whitening methods as described on instructions. She then measured the color of all teeth using three methods, two different color guides and a spectrometer. Results showed that the DIY whitening method didn’t actually whiten teeth at all, although all the other whiteners did lead to significant whitening.

Damage Caused by Whitening

Dr. Kwon was also concerned about the potential impact teeth whitening might have on teeth. Although generally believed to be safe, it is often a good idea to confirm that something like teeth whitening really doesn’t have a negative impact on teeth. To look at this question, Dr. Kwon tested the microhardness of teeth after they had been exposed to whiteners. She found that none of the whiteners softened tooth enamel, except for the DIY solution.

This means that not only is DIY whitening ineffective, but it may increase tooth erosion.

If you are looking for safe, effective teeth whitening, it’s important to talk to a dentist. At-home methods like this one are often ineffective or damaging.

For help with teeth whitening or other types of cosmetic dentistry, please call (817) 481-6888 for an appointment with a Grapevine cosmetic dentist at Grapevine Dental Care.