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Teeth Whitening

Your Guide to Teeth Whitening

Have you looked into the mirror after brushing and notice that your teeth are far from white? They appear yellow, and so you tried brushing them again. But, nothing has changed.

You started growing self-conscious and avoided showing your smile to anyone. The good thing is that your “yellow” teeth are not permanent. You can restore or lighten the shade of your teeth with teeth whitening.

But before we dwell into the solution, let’s dig into the problem — discolored teeth.

What is tooth discoloration?

It is expected that at one point in our lives, our teeth can be discolored due to stains on the tooth surface or changes in the tooth. Tooth discoloration can be extrinsic, intrinsic, or age-related.

  • Extrinsic stains are found on the tooth surface and often occur when pigmented residue from food or drinks build up in the protein film which covers the enamel. Aside from food and beverages, tobacco use also contributes to extrinsic stains.
  • Intrinsic stains are found underneath the tooth surface and are acquired when stain-causing particles get into the exterior of the tooth and accumulate inside the enamel, causing the dentin to darken or gets a yellow tint. Some causes of intrinsic stains are excessive use of fluoride during childhood, use of tetracycline antibiotics when young, trauma, among others.
  • Age-related stains are a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic stains. As we age, the enamel gets thinner, resulting in the exposure of the core tissues of the teeth which naturally turns yellow over time. This intrinsic discoloration, along with extrinsic stains due to food

How can I whiten my discolored teeth?

You can restore the “whiteness” of your teeth through teeth whitening which lightens the teeth from their current shade.

You can utilize whitening toothpaste or rinses, whitening strips, whitening gels, tray bleaching, and in-office whitening.

  • Available in supermarkets, whitening toothpaste can help reduce discoloration especially if it’s due to extrinsic stains. Whitening toothpaste has carbamide peroxide or hydrogen which are bleaching agents. The abrasives in this toothpaste are devised to remove tooth stains on the enamel.
  • Whitening rinse contains similar bleaching agents as that of whitening toothpaste and is used similarly to ordinary rinses.
  • Made from thin, flexible, and hydrogen peroxide-infused polyethylene, the most common plastic, teeth whitening strips are lightly pressed onto the teeth for contact and worn two times a day for 30 minutes.
  • Teeth whitening gels also have hydrogen peroxide. The gel is regularly applied to the teeth two times daily for two weeks.
  • If over-the-counter measures don’t work, patients can opt for tray bleaching which is a professional whitening kit offered by a dentist. Compared to over-the-counter whitening products, this process is expected to work faster and effectively. Tray bleaching works by applying peroxide-based gel on customized trays. The teeth whitening procedure is activated through the creation of hydroxyl radicals as a result of the breakdown of the peroxide agent.
  • In-office whitening is considered the quickest way to whiten teeth. The in-office whitening treatment utilizes a dental lamp to accelerate peroxide breakdown. Completed in a dental office, very concentrated peroxide is used in this treatment.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening

Why is there a preference for activated charcoal teeth whitening among other whitening products? We can’t really say for sure, but it might have something to do with a viable choice for natural products. And with health scares over potentially harmful substances and concern over rising prices, it’s no surprise. 

Activated charcoal is a preferred ingredient because of activated charcoal powder’s use in poison treatment. When ingested, activated charcoal powder binds to the toxins, absorbing them before they could do any severe damage. 

Those who swear by activated charcoal whitening then argue that it works the same way. When you place the activated charcoal powder on your teeth, it supposedly removes stains by absorbing the particles that stain teeth. Aside from the unsightly activated charcoal teeth, however, this type of whitening might do more harm than good. 

Why shouldn’t you use activated charcoal teeth whitening, then? 

It doesn’t work the way you think it does

On the surface, assuming that activated charcoal teeth whitening works the same way as absorbing poison does seem like a plausible explanation. After all, that is the nature of the activated charcoal powder. What other people don’t mention, however, is that it can only absorb a select number of substances. Mayo Clinic, for instance, notes the few materials activated charcoal can’t digest, such as:

  • Strong acids and bases
  • Iron
  • Lithium
  • Petroleum products
  • Alcohol
  • Lye
  • Oil

As such, activated charcoal powder can’t absorb the tiny particles that stain teeth. We also previously noted that to give your teeth that pearly white status, whitening products must get through the pores in the enamel to break down those particles that stain teeth. Activated charcoal powder, however, doesn’t have this ability.

If that’s the case, how does it work?

Activated charcoal teeth whitening can ruin your tooth enamel

Activated charcoal teeth whitening, as it turns out, remove stains the same way most natural whitening products do: abrasion. That’s right—activated charcoal powder doesn’t remove stains through absorption.  

Sure, the activated charcoal powder can feel pretty fine to the touch. But they still have abrasive properties, which are enough to scour off any surface stains and strip down layers of tooth enamel.

It’s for the latter reason why dentists and other dental professionals tend to sway people off activated charcoal whitening. Aside from getting a bad case of activated charcoal teeth, every time you brush with a spoonful of activated charcoal powder, you’re slowly wearing down your tooth enamel. And instead of having it remove stains, you’re actually one step towards compromising your oral hygiene and oral health. 

That said, if the activated charcoal powder isn’t the way to go, what is? Usually, getting your teeth whitened professionally is the best way to go. And the next time you hear about the latest oral hygiene craze, it’s always best to consult your doctor. 

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