Does your smile make you cringe? Do you look at celebrity photos and dream about a dazzling white smile?
If so, you’re not alone. The teeth whitening industry is worth an incredible $11 billion per year in the US, and that trend is spilling over into the UK.
90% of British women say they want a whiter smile, which explains the 25% increase in teeth whitening services during 2015-2016.
While many visit their dentist for treatment, others try cheap teeth whitening treatments at home.
Are these treatments safe? Do they even work? Read on to learn more about the risks of cheap teeth whitening treatments.
Popular Teeth Whitening Trends
There are several healthy foods you can eat that naturally whiten your teeth. But most people want fast, noticeable results.
Here’s a list of popular cheap teeth whitening treatments people try at home.
Over-the-Counter UV Kits
One of the newest trends in DIY teeth whitening is an over-the-counter UV kit. The idea is that the light acts as a catalyst to break down the peroxide and speed up the whitening process.
In reality, though, the same UV light that causes sunburns and skin cancer can also damage your gum, eyes, and lips. Other users have reported stomach problems, oral infections, gum shrinkage, and nerve damage.
Activated charcoal teeth whitening is popular and is available for everything from ice cream flavours to carbonated beverages.
Because charcoal absorbs toxins from the colon, some claim that it also pulls impurities from the teeth. Even if this is true, the long-term effects of activated charcoal are still unknown.
Those who want to lighten individual teeth may try a paint-on whitening pen. Because of the low amount of hydrogen peroxide, it’s doubtful whether the user will see any noticeable results.
More important, though, whitening pens can cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.
Bicarbonate of Soda
Bicarbonate of soda (also called baking soda) is a natural teeth whitener. For this reason, many kinds of toothpaste contain it.
Others try to make their own toothpaste at home using bicarbonate of soda. While this may whiten teeth, over time the abrasive nature will wear down the enamel. This leaves your teeth prone to sensitivity and cavities.
Another common trend, especially in the celebrity world, is oil pulling. This involves swishing coconut or a similar oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes and then spitting it out.
The idea is that the oil will pull impurities from your mouth and whiten your smile. Whether this is true or not, it’s not a substitute for regular cleanings from your dentist.
Dangers of Cheap Teeth Whitening
Now that we’ve discussed cheap teeth whitening trends, let’s look at some potential dangers.
The most common substances for cheap teeth whitening are hydrogen peroxide and bicarbonate. Both of these are highly abrasive to your enamel.
What happens when your enamel erodes? For starters, your teeth are more vulnerable to yellowing and thinning. Over time, this will make any whitening efforts even more difficult.
Another sign of enamel erosion is pain. If your teeth feel sensitive when you eat something cold, your enamel is already weakened.
Enamel isn’t the only part of your mouth that suffers from cheap whitening techniques. Your gums are equally vulnerable to damage.
Any injury to your gums increases the risk for oral infection. This can lead to severe consequences for your teeth and your overall health. These infections also increase the risk for gum disease or heart disease.
Common signs of gum damage include redness, inflammation, and bleeding. If you notice any of these, be sure to see your dentist right away.
As serious as enamel erosion and gum damage are, there’s another risk that’s even more dangerous.
Every year, many people rush to the hospital because they accidentally swallow hydrogen peroxide. Why? They were trying to whiten their teeth the cheap way.
Ingesting hydrogen peroxide can cause severe burns to your throat and digestive tract. In some cases, it could even be fatal. We all want whiter teeth, but is it worth risking your life?
Any product that contains bicarbonate of soda or hydrogen peroxide can make your teeth sensitive. This is true even of approved over-the-counter products.
Using these substances in a homemade concoction significantly increases the chance of damage. Over time, your enamel and teeth may become so worn that you’re in constant pain.
While this isn’t necessarily dangerous, it’s an annoyance you want to avoid.
Applied incorrectly, over-the-counter teeth whitening kits can leave uneven results. If you’re using a DIY mixture, you’re even less likely to see even whitening.
The result? Your teeth will be only half-bleached and will look worse than they did before. Not only that, but your teeth will show dark spots that occur from consuming teeth-staining foods.
When you’re trying to whiten your teeth, the last thing you think about is the possibility of them getting darker. Unfortunately, that’s a real risk with some cheap teeth whitening treatments.
How could this happen? Both bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide damage the enamel. This makes your teeth retain and show stains more than they normally would.
This means that every time you ingest teeth-staining foods and drinks (coffee, tea, wine, etc.), your teeth will become darker instead of whiter. Over the years, your teeth may end up many shades darker than they were before you tried to whiten them.
As you can see, there are many risks to consider with cheap teeth whitening treatments. You only get one set of teeth, so why take unnecessary chances with them?
Fortunately, there are other ways to whiten your teeth that are both safe and affordable.
Crest White Strips are the UK’s #1 teeth whitening strips, and they’re available online. Best of all, these products are safe to use and will yield better results than the DIY methods listed above.
We invite you to browse our selection of whitening products and find the one that’s best for you.