Tooth whitening is the leading dental procedure requested by people under the age of 20 and between the ages of 30 and 50. In the last 10 years alone, this procedure has exploded by 300 percent, according to The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Perhaps one reason for the explosion has to do with the vast numbers of people having their teeth whitened, which then sets a new standard for how "normal" teeth are supposed to look. Even if your teeth are a healthy shade, they may look yellow when compared to the pearly whites of celebrities and, now, the average person walking down the street.
The problem with most current tooth-whitening products, both over-the-counter versions and those performed in your dentist’s office, is that they use hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth.
This is not your best choice because peroxide can cause your teeth to become sensitive. Additionally, hydrogen peroxide forms radical intermediates that can damage and destroy your gums and nerves.
What causes your teeth to become discolored in the first place? Tooth discoloration is caused by colored molecules such as tannins and polyphenols -- found in red wine, coffee, and tea -- which become absorbed by your tooth enamel’s surface.
Cigarettes, blueberries, and other foods that contain dark pigments can also discolor your tooth enamel, as can certain medications. Some of the staining can be removed by brushing, but over time the compounds can seep into your enamel.
If you’re looking for a safer alternative to brighten your teeth, you can try this simple trick:
- Crush one ripe strawberry and mix it with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Spread the mixture onto your teeth and leave on for five minutes.
- Brush your teeth with a little toothpaste (non-fluoride, of course) and rinse.
This natural mixture works because of the malic acid it contains, which acts as an astringent to remove some of the surface discoloration on your teeth. Though this method is perfectly safe to use on occasion, don’t use it too often (no more than once a week) because the acid could potentially damage your tooth enamel.
Dumb Little Man