Teeth-whitening kits have been gaining popularity as an alternative to clinical procedures. A dentist gives us the lowdown on their efficacy
A teeth-whitening kit
Teeth-whitening kits have been trending on social media for a while now, presumably offering hopefuls the ability to craft a pearly-white smile in the comfort of their homes. “Most Indian dishes contain turmeric, which stains the teeth. Add coffee, red wine and smoking to the mix and it’s easy to see why our teeth are prone to yellowing and discolouration,” explains Dr Riddhi Katara, a cosmetic dentist at Experteeth Dental Care.
Material for oil-pulling
Typically, whitening kits contain trays and tubes that are filled with whitening gels or syringes. While some have moldable trays, others are pre-filled, and some are fitted with LED lights. “Regardless of the type of kit you use, it will contain a bleaching agent to create a whitening effect. It’s important to use the right concentration of the bleaching agent so that the results produced last longer. Most home-based kits have a very weak concentration, and can hence only help with eliminating some stains and mild discolouration, unlike clinic-based treatments whose effects often last for more than five years. However, repeatedly using them can cause your dental enamel to erode,” warns Dr Katara. She adds that whitening toothpastes, unlike what their name suggests, only help with maintaining the results of teeth that have been whitened under clinical supervision; they are not an effective standalone treatment.
Dr Riddhi Katara
What really works
Dr Katara advocates oil-pulling, a traditional practice that involves rinsing your teeth with extra virgin coconut oil. “Use one tablespoon of the oil and swish it in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not swallow the oil; spit it out once you’re done. Oil pulling has been found to help with bad breath, prevent plaque formation and promote gum health,” she explains. Eating certain fruits such as pineapples and cranberries can help to naturally whiten your teeth. If you are pressed for time and don’t have access to a dentist, she suggests using baking soda to whiten your teeth. However, use this only as a last resort as regular use can be harmful.