IF YOU’RE after pearly whites, stop focusing on teeth brushing, experts say.
Many people think the more you clean your teeth, the whiter they will be.
AlamyYour toothbrush can prevent oral decay – but it can’t improve what’s already there[/caption]
And it’s easy to be drawn in by toothpastes sold with “whitening” claims.
But have you ever actually seen a difference before and after using these products?
Dr Azad Eyrumlu, co-founder and CEO of leading private dental firm Banning Dental Group, said it’s essential to brush your teeth twice a day.
But he added: “Your teeth won’t get whiter simply by brushing them.
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“The colour of our teeth is primarily down to our dentin, a hard tissue that makes up most of the teeth’s structure and is covered by enamel.
“This is typically a pale yellow in colour for most people, while enamel is mainly transparent.
“Brushing helps remove surface bacteria and stains, but brushing alone won’t give you teeth as white as a Hollywood star.”
You can use brushing to prevent the teeth from becoming more discoloured – but not reverse damage, said Dr Eyrumlu.
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Daily brushing and flossing are also essential to maintain oral health, and can remove plaque build-up, preventing decay and gum disease.
As for whitening toothpastes that you can buy in most stores, these have a “minimal impact” on your gnashers, Dr Eyrumlu said.
Toothpastes only remove surface stains, such as those caused by what you eat and drink.
Dr Eyrumlu said: “They often contain specific ingredients such as abrasives and mild bleaching agents to tackle surface stains, but they won’t reach the dentin that is mainly responsible for the colour of your teeth.
“Claims of the ability to whiten teeth often refer to removing surface stains and bacteria which can discolour teeth.”
Dr Eyrumlu advised speaking to your dentist about which toothpaste suits your needs, such as sensitivty.
“The basic advice still applies, however, which is to choose one with fluoride to help prevent tooth decay,” he said.
What CAN whiten teeth?
To have a visibly brighter smile, bleach is needed in the form of teeth whitening.
Professional teeth whitening is also the only way to treat discoloration of the tooth – which can look like staining, but is in fact deeper in the tooth.
People often turn to the consumer market for products that claim to whiten teeth, from strips to blue lights.
But experts warn these products can be both ineffective and dangerous, harming the enamel and gums.
Home remedies are also, more often than not, unproven.
Dr Eyrumlu said: “Many people turn to home remedies as a more convenient alternative to professional treatment in search of a brighter smile.
“However, science doesn’t always back up conventional wisdom and old wives’ tales aren’t always aligned with reality.
“For example, activated charcoal is commonly thought to remove stains and whiten teeth, but sadly there isn’t enough clinical evidence to say this for certain.”
Teeth whitening hacks range from baking soda to strawberries and apple cider vinegar.
Dr Eyrumlu said: “Strawberries could be an easy and delicious way to brighten your smile as they contain malic acid, which is said to have bleaching properties.
“However, the acidity can lead to erosion of the enamel and as such this is not a safe way to whiten teeth.”
The best and fastest way to change the shade of your smile is to go to a dentist, who can legally and safely apply the highest level of bleach to your teeth.
Bleaching gels and LED lasers are used to lift the colour of the teeth.
The composition of such gels are proven to whiten teeth by releasing bleaching molecules from inside the tooth.
In the UK, whitening is done privately, with standard prices starting at around £350.
The NHS warns: “Teeth whitening carried out in beauty salons by untrained staff or staff without dental qualifications puts your oral health at risk and is also illegal.”
Teeth whitening isn’t permanent so you may need to pay additional costs to top-up your white smile.