With the high cost of dental care and the hassle of booking an appointment, DIY dentistry is no surprise. After all, why go through the frustration of dental work that doesn’t serve you in the long run? With DIY dentistry, you have the luxury of getting your teeth done in the comfort of your home and all for a fraction of the price of most dental practices. But while it might be tempting to rely on these at-home remedies, there’s no replacing a visit to a licensed dentist. And for a good reason, too.
From teeth whitening to teeth straightening, DIY dentistry services look to eliminate the middleman and provide dental care straight to you. It’s especially helpful for busy people who can’t squeeze in a visit to the dental office. But licensed dentists and other dental professionals are alarmed—and rightfully so—about this growing trend.
At a glance, at-home dental care has two aims:
- To bring the treatment straight to the patient
- To cut down costs related to typical dental work
Usually, companies who peddle DIY dentistry options have a remote team of dental professionals who create the implements and guide customers through their treatment of choice.
This approach can hit a few snags along the way. Ask any dentist about why they entered the dental industry, and they’ll probably tell you about the hands-on nature of the field. What happens when you take away this hands-on aspect? A lot of problems, as it turns out.
But how did DIY dentistry come to be? And what are its disadvantages? Let’s find out.
DIY Dentistry: A Product of Dental Innovation
In the past, we talked about how dental innovations helped move dental care—and general dentistry—to the caliber it is now. Some innovations can be systematic in approach, such as the rise of patient-based care. Others refine existing dental implements, like water picks and metal-free dental implants.
You can say that DIY dentistry is also a product of dental innovation. Whitening strips, for instance, are a commercialized version of professional whitening treatment. Albeit with a smaller dose—the peroxide gels used in your in-office whitening treatments typically use lower doses to prevent potential injuries. Carbamide peroxide is also mostly used in these teeth whitening products because they whiten stably and is less corrosive than hydrogen peroxide.
Even orthodontics is having its DIY moment. More and more companies are offering remote orthodontic solutions. You can pin this trend on the rise of Invisalign aligners. You just need an impression of your teeth to send to the company. Then, you’re given a box of aligners to use for the next few months.
At Home Products: Baking Soda
Yes, it’s true — baking soda can help whiten your teeth! Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a chemical compound that is white, crystalline, and often appears as a fine powder. It is made up of sodium and bicarbonate ions.
Baking soda has a salty, alkaline taste. Its alkalinity helps eliminate tooth discoloration due to food and drink consumption, smoking, and the like. And, due to the mild abrasiveness, it removes plaque on the tooth’s surface.
People often question whether the whole baking soda method of whitening teeth works. Fortunately, there is plenty of scientific research and you’ll soon know if using baking soda to achieve pearly white smile is really possible. Below are 6 ways to use baking soda for teeth whitening.
#1 Baking soda and Water. The most basic method is mixing baking soda and water. Using a small cup or bowl, mix a few drops of water with a half a teaspoon of baking soda to craft a paste. Once you have a paste, apply it to your teeth using a toothbrush or your fingers. Leave on for approximately two minutes and rinse with water.
#2 Baking soda and Toothpaste. You can also try adding a little amount of baking soda to your toothpaste. Or, you may purchase a ready-made toothpaste that contains baking soda as an ingredient.
#3 Baking soda and Hydrogen Peroxide. You can partner baking soda with another household product — hydrogen peroxide — to effectively whiten your teeth. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda and a half teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide until the mixture turns into a toothpaste-like consistency. Use the mixture to brush your teeth. Let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing it off with water. Make sure to rinse well and use a three-percent solution hydrogen peroxide for safety.
#4 Baking soda and Lime or Lemon Juice. Lime and lemon contain citric acid which is an effective bleaching agent. To use, mix half teaspoon of baking soda to half teaspoon of lime or lemon. Use your toothbrush to brush your teeth with the mixture. Let the mixture sit for a minute before washing it off. However, limit the use of this mixture as citric acid can be detrimental to the teeth due to the acid found in limes and lemons.
#5 Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar. Rinsing with three parts water and one part apple cider vinegar makes for a great teeth-whitening rinse. Mix it with toothpaste, and brush as you normally would.
#6 Coconut Oil and Baking Soda Toothpaste. Another way to save up on expensive whitening treatments and avoid harmful chemicals is to utilize a coconut oil paste on your teeth. Coconut oil is a good source of lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid that helps with weight loss and cholesterol levels. Coconut oil also aids in addressing inflammation, healing wounds, and keeping the prostate healthy.
When mixed with baking soda and peppermint essential oil, you can have a paste that will whiten your teeth and prevent tooth decay. Coconut oil is excellent for whitening the teeth thanks to its fatty acids. Swishing coconut oil paste for 20 minutes will do the trick. Just heat one cup of coconut oil until liquid-like, add 5-10 drops of spearmint essential oil, and add two teaspoons of baking soda.
How Long and How Often Should You Clean Your Teeth With Baking Soda?
Brush your teeth with the baking soda paste for not longer than two minutes at a time. Prolonged exposure to baking soda (a mild abrasive) can erode your enamel. When you are brushing, make sure to apply the right tactics when brushing, especially baking soda.
Afterward, rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash. Do not forget to wash your toothbrush thoroughly.
You can repeat the baking-soda-method every other day for one or two weeks to give your teeth and enamel room to breathe and prevent enamel erosion.
How Fast Does Baking Soda Whiten Teeth?
Results can be noticed after just a few days, but noticeable whiteness can be seen after a couple of weeks. Others may notice slight results after the first time they use baking soda on their teeth.
What Are Other Benefits of Using Baking Soda on Teeth?
Aside from teeth whitening, baking soda can also help in maintaining good oral health. It can be a cheaper temporary remedy for dental issues, including bad breath, mouth sores and ulcers, and gum disease.
#1 Baking Soda for Bad Breath. Baking soda can re-balance the acid levels inside your mouth, preventing and treating bad breath. Simply dissolve a half teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. Use this mixture as an oral rinse.
#2 Baking Soda for Mouth Sores and Ulcers. For mouth sores and ulcers, dissolve one to two teaspoons of baking soda in a glass of water. This will serve as an oral rinse to soothe and help in the healing process.
#3 Baking Soda for Gum Disease. Baking soda can help block the accumulation of plaque and aid in the aversion of gum disease. Add a small amount of baking soda in your toothpaste then brush.
Is it Safe to Brush Your Teeth with Baking Soda?
Everything in excess can be harmful. Excessive use of baking soda could be harmful to the enamel due to its abrasiveness. Also, baking soda is not a replacement for toothpaste as it does not contain cavity-fighting fluoride.
For a healthy use of baking soda as a teeth whitener, all you should need is about a pea-sized drop of the product, just enough to cover the bristles of a wet toothbrush head. Gently brush the teeth with the baking soda for about a minute or two, ensuring it’s being applied at all angles, corners, crevices, and surfaces of the teeth. Then, rinse.
Leaving it on too long or using it too often could lead to the tooth enamel’s erosion. Brush your teeth as usual with toothpaste after rinsing out the baking soda.
However, do not use baking soda if you have braces or another non-removable dental correcting device.
If you notice tooth sensitivity or other notable symptoms from using baking soda as a tooth whitener, make an appointment with a dentist. Be candid with your dentist regarding your experiences with baking soda, so they can best assist you.
Despite how straightforward it all seems, some problems come with this approach.
#1 Dentists are Unable to Monitor Your Dental Work
We mentioned earlier how dentistry is a hands-on discipline. It centers on the interaction between the dentist and the patient. When taken out of the picture, what usually happens?
As you might have guessed, not a lot of good stuff, particularly in the long term. In terms of DIY dentistry services, the effects of at-home whitening are pretty tame as compared to other options, with most of its problems centering around unequal whitening and ineffectiveness. Services like at-home orthodontics, however, has a whole different story. Without a dentist close-by to monitor the effects of the aligners, these services are at a massive risk of worsening the misalignment. And at worst, it can even create problems that weren’t there before.
So, before you delve into DIY dentistry, you might want to consult a dental professional. After all, the cheapest options shouldn’t mean the cheapest quality.