During a global pandemic (aka the Coronavirus season), it can be difficult to maintain routine dental visits. Plus, you’ll find yourself taking more photos to stay connected with your friends and family…which means your teeth are going to be on FULL display. So how can you do teeth whitening at home? Well, that’s easy because this article will give you tips that you can implement into your new COVID lockdown lifestyle.
Pearly white teeth is something we all secretly want at a reasonable price, and with zero sensitivity. In the current market, there are a ton of whitening products – toothpaste, whitening strips, gels, charcoal, baking soda, lemon/vinegar juice. Some products are harmful, others cause sensitivity. However, there are a few teeth whitening tricks you can do at home, which have zero side-effects.
Ideally, before starting tooth whitening, get A DENTAL CHECK-UP
In an ideal world where there are no lockdown restrictions, I recommend everyone to get a dental check-up before starting tooth whitening. This is to ensure you don’t have any cavities, tartar build-up, gum disease or stained veneers…because they will make your tooth whitening regime ineffective and it may even cause tooth sensitivity. Unfortunately, at the moment, dental clinics are either closed or only performing dental emergencies, so the teeth whitening tips I’ve given below are safe to use at home with minimal sensitivity side-effects. However, before we dive into GOOD teeth whitening habits at home, let’s quickly run through the BAD habits first.
❌ BAD Whitening Products to Use at Home ❌
1. Scrubbing your Teeth with Charcoal Toothpastes or Baking Soda
Both products are quite abrasive (aka rough). Initially, you may see an improvement because the protective outer layer of enamel which is stained, will be scrubbed away by the charcoal or baking soda. However, in the long run, this will not only lead to sensitivity issues, but it will also start exposing the second yellow layer of teeth called dentine, making your teeth appear more yellow instead of white. These abrasive products give you temporary results and are linked to severe long-term side effects.
2. Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar as a Mouthwash
Initially, you may see an improvement in the colour of your teeth because the acidity from lemon or vinegar will dissolve away the outer protective enamel layer, which is most likely stained. But once again, in the long run, your teeth will become more sensitive and discoloured once the enamel (white) layer completes dissolves away.
✅ GOOD Whitening Products to Use At Home ✅
1. Use a Straw to Drink Acidic or Heavy Staining Drinks
The best way to avoid tooth discolouration is to prevent heavy staining drinks from touching your teeth in the first place. At the moment, most people’s diet is far from their normal routine. Lots of people are having fancy coffee at home (Dalgona coffee), tea, sodas, sugary juices, and wine to keep their spirits uplifted during this Coronavirus chaos. But if you keep up those habits, in a few weeks, your teeth are going to be extremely stained and start to appear yellow. To minimize staining, drink all acidic and heavy staining drinks with a STRAW. Consider buying reusable stainless steel straws online or in-store, so you can save the planet, and save your teeth. Amazon and eBay have plenty of stainless steel straws at a great price!
2. Water Rinses
After drinking anything acidic or heavy staining, take a sip of WATER and swish it around your mouth (vigorously) for 10-15 seconds before swallowing or spitting it out. Water rinses are convenient, cheap and easily accessible – do a water rinse especially if you haven’t used a straw in the first place. Examples of acidic or heavy staining foods include coffee, tea, wine, tomatoes, strawberries, chocolate, acidic salad dressings, citrus drinks, sodas. I recommend all my patients to do a water rinse after every meal as well. Basically, the LAST thing to ever touch your teeth, should be water.
On a side note, as a dentist, I see A LOT of staining when patients smoke. After smoking, rinse your mouth with water to prevent the tobacco from staining your teeth. Or, better yet, just quit smoking altogether…save your teeth and your lungs!
3. Chew Sugar-Free Gum
There’s a common misconception that chewing gum is bad for teeth…but the truth is: chewing gum is GREAT for your teeth!! It promotes saliva production, which has great protective and buffering properties. It balances the acid in your mouth and prevents the staining particles from sticking to your teeth. It’s best to chew gum after a meal, or during a time frame when you want to avoid snacking. Being under lockdown and staying at home all day gives you access to the fridge and unhealthy snacks in the cupboard 24/7. This can be super dangerous for your teeth and unhealthy for your overall body. Therefore, use chewing gum to distract your brain from constantly thinking you’re hungry. Chewing gum will also prevent a dry mouth, which can be a risk factor for developing cavities.
Side note: The only time I don’t recommend chewing gum is if you suffer from pain in your jaw joints & facial muscles, also known as TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction).
4. Snack on Healthy Food and Drinks
You may be tempted to reach for the chocolates, coffee, wine, sodas because you’re trying to cheer yourself up during isolation period. However, imagine the damage you’ll do to your teeth if you maintain those unhealthy habits for weeks (potentially months) of social-distancing still to come. There are plenty of snacks that won’t stain your teeth. Some of my favourites are apples, almonds (basically all types of nuts), dark chocolate, carrots & hummus, cheese and crackers, celery, yogurt. Most of these snacks also require a lot of chewing, which will promote saliva and protect your teeth against cavities. Moreover, healthy drinks that won’t stain your teeth are, milk, vodka and soda (since it’s clear), mineral/tap water, tea (white, ginger or herbal/green tea). However, it’s ideal that you use a straw even you’re drinking low-staining teas.
5. Brush & Floss Your Teeth
The best way to prevent tooth discolouration is to remove plaque and staining particles off your teeth throughout the day. I know it sounds like common sense…but a lot of people overlook the importance of toothbrushing for achieving a bright smile. Remember to replace your toothbrush every 3 months to get the best results of plaque removal.
There are plenty of “Whitening Toothpastes” found in supermarkets, however, most of them are quite harmful for your teeth. Therefore, please read my article on “SUPERMARKET WHITENING PRODUCTS”, by clicking here, where I discuss safe whitening products found in supermarkets.
Important Take-Home Messages:
- AVOID using acidic products like lemon juice and vinegar to whitening your teeth.
- AVOID scrubbing your teeth with abrasive charcoal toothpaste or baking soda.
- GOOD tooth whitening habits include regular water rinses, using a straw, chewing gum, eating healthy snacks that promote saliva production and brushing your teeth twice a day.