Benefits & Risks of Activated Charcoal to Whiten Teeth (Doctor's Advice)
11 Teeth Whitening Products That Actually Work, According to Dentists
These days, there are so many teeth whitening products on the market that the very idea of brightening your smile can become more overwhelming than exciting. Should you invest in teeth whitening kits or trays? Toothpaste or gel? Strips or pens? And which of the bajillion treatments available garner the best results—or any results at all?
Then there's the biggest question of all: Is it better to whiten your teeth at home or at the dentist's office? "When you choose to whiten at home, you're choosing to take a slow and steady approach to whitening, which translates to less side effects, such as tooth sensitivity," says New York-based cosmetic dentist Edward Alvarez, DDS. “You’ll also have a healthier mouth overall because you’re using products that will increase the pH of your mouth for a sustained period of time, ultimately killing bacteria and lessening decay.”
Well, that settles that—and let's not forget how much money you’ll save. But with the number of options available, the process can be very confusing for consumers, says California-based cosmetic dentist Sarah Jebreil, DDS. The best place to start? Decide which type of teeth whitening treatment suits your needs and is convenient to your lifestyle so that you’re less likely to skip treatments:
Whitening toothpastescontain polishing or chemical agents designed to improve tooth appearance by removing surface stains, as well as lightening the color of your teeth below the surface.
Whitening stripsare made of flexible plastic that mold to the teeth, and the whitening formula they contain breaks down and oxidizes into the teeth to whiten them.
Whitening penscontain high quality teeth whitening gel, and their ease of application makes them one of the more convenient teeth whitening options.
Whitening lights are used in tandem with a specially formulated gel to help speed up the whitening process.
Whitening traysare an effective method of whitening, but experts recommend using custom-fitted mouth trays made by your dentist. “If they aren’t fitted properly, the tooth whitening gel can leak out of the trays,” says Toronto-based endodontist Gary Glassman, DDS. (If you do decide on an OTC option, avoid putting too much gel in the trays so as to not burn your gums.)
Once it’s time to scour the drugstore for your whitening treatment du jour, make sure the product you choose has earned a seal of approval from the American Dental Association. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that anything placed in the mouth penetrates the mucous membranes and is readily absorbed by the body, so you want to make sure the chemicals you’re putting in your body are safe,” says Jebreil.
It’s also important that the product contains either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, the active ingredients necessary to remove surface and underlying stains—but no more than 10 percent or 35 percent, respectively, says Jebreil. Anything higher than these levels can do serious damage to the tissues in your mouth and are only recommended for professional use.
Duly noted. Still, even with these guidelines in mind, which teeth whitening products are legitimately worth the money? Here, dental pros share their top product recommendations.
Jason Natural PowerSmile Antiplaque & Whitening Toothpaste
If you prefer a teeth whitening toothpaste, make sure it doesn't contain any harsh abrasives or irritating chemicals. "Otherwise, you lose healthy enamel, which can make your teeth yellower and possibly more sensitive in the long run," says Hugh Flax, DDS, of Flax Dental in Atlanta, Georgia.
His top teeth whitening pick? . It contains natural, gentle ingredients (such as bamboo powder and baking soda) to prevent tartar buildup while whitening and brightening your smile.
Crest 3D White Whitestrips
If you're happy to devote 30 minutes a day to a highly effective treatment, try . They contain enamel-safe ingredients that don't cause sensitivity during wear, and they're the only whitening strips that have from the American Dental Association. They're easy to use, comfortable to wear, and yield excellent results for an OTC teeth whitening treatment, says Dovi Prero, board-certified orthodontist and member of the California Association of Orthodontists.
Philips Sonicare Single Whitening Touch-Up Pen
Prefer a portable whitener? Philips Sonicare whitening pens are a highly effective method of teeth whitening, says Glassman. "Not only do they contain high quality teeth whitening gel, but they offer the most convenience and ease of application."
They're also more effective than strips, Glassman adds, because they have a silicone rubber tip that can penetrate the enamel, allowing for the whitening gel to work on all layers of your teeth. Cha. Ching.
Supersmile Teeth Whitening Kit
As far as teeth whitening kits go, Supersmile's 6 Minutes to a Whiter Smile kit is tough to beat because it safely whitens and re-mineralizes teeth, including dental restorations (bonding, caps, veneers, and dentures), says New York-based prosthodontist Bijan Gohari, DMD. This kit is also 75 percent less abrasive than the limit set by the American Dental Association, so you won't have to worry about teeth sensitivity rearing its ugly… molars.
Check out this video on how to use fruit to whiten your smile... yes, we said fruit:
Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste
This gentle, whitening toothpaste doesn’t just remove stains—it also helps in the fight against cavities and tooth decay, says Victoria Veytsman, DDS, of Cosmetic Dental Studios in Manhattan. If you have temperamental teeth, there’s a for sensitivity relief. Basically, this is the superhero your mouth needs.
Majestic Pure Activated Charcoal Powder
Using charcoal as a teeth whitener sounds counterintuitive, but hear us out: The charcoal is abrasive, so it will remove any buildup and external stains, while serving as a little magnet to pull out the deeper ones, too.
"An added benefit is that the charcoal will serve to raise the pH in your mouth, which can help protect your teeth from cavities, since they’re formed by acids on your teeth," says Alvarez. Use a food grade activated charcoal made from coconut or bamboo (certified organic is a plus), he suggests.
Wet your toothbrush, dip it into the charcoal andlightlybrush your teeth—again, charcoal is abrasive, so if you brush too hard it can damage or dull both your enamel and any dental restorations you may have. Keep rinsing your mouth until the water runs clear, then brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste.
Omega Nutrition Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV contains about 5 percent acetic acid, which serves to break down tartar and calculus (that hard, yellow gunk stuck between your lower teeth), says Alvarez, and is similar to the acidic solutions dentists use to get tartar and stains off of dentures and mouth guards. A word of caution though: Use too much of it, and it will start to break down your enamel and make you more susceptible to cavities. Use it as a rinse no more than once a week, says Alvarez, thenlightlybrush with your toothpaste after you've swished.
Sensodyne True White Toothpaste
Mastering how to whiten teeth when they're super-sensitive can be a tricky business. Fortunately, Sensodyne True White is 10 times less abrasive than many leading whitening toothpastes. The gently lifts stains from the surface of teeth, while also providing active stain protection that works to create a protective shield to help prevent new stains from sticking to the tooth's surface.
Go Smile Super White Snap Packs
This teeth whitening system is super-easy to use, and is one of the best gel whitening treatments, says Lana Rozenberg, New York-based cosmetic dentist. It comes in single-use applications to protect the potency of the formula until it’s applied—and once applied (the recommended dose is morning and night for seven days), it penetrates the surface to whiten teeth without sensitivity.
Hello Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste
“Charcoal toothpaste is very abrasive and not meant to be used often—or with a heavy hand—because it can wear away enamel, but it’s great at prepping the teeth prior to a whitening treatment,” says Jebreil. Using the toothpaste (and flossing it between teeth) prior to putting on strips, for example, can deep clean your teeth and help the whitening formula penetrate better.
GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device Kit
This whitening kit can get your smile five shades whiter in less than one week sans sensitivity. The mouthpiece illuminates with a vibrant blue LED light and gently warms to amplify the brand’s specially formulated whitening gel for a whiter, brighter smile, says Rozenberg. Best of all, the applications only require eight minutes at a time.
Video: The Risks of Teeth Whitening
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