What to know about teeth whitening

Health Watch

45 million Americans, which is 14 percent of the population, have had professional teeth whitening. Others may have resorted to over-the-counter products.

Either way, it shows that we care about how pearly our whites are. How far would you go to get a camera-ready smile? We’ll find out what’s safe and what’s not.

Face masks, body soap, and now toothpaste. Charcoal seems to be the latest trend to whiten your teeth but is it doing more harm than good?

“If you overbrush with charcoal, it can actually have opposite effect on the teeth, it can actually be a detriment to the teeth,” said Dr. Brett Zak, DMD, a dentist.

What about LED activated teeth whitening systems? “It might take three, four, five times as long as a dentist provided whitening is going to take,” said Zak.

While entire systems like snow come at a pretty price, can over-the-counter whitening kits be a better alternative? “They can lead to sensitivity,” said Zak.

And have you heard of using carbonated water to brighten your smile? Turns out it has a pH level high enough to demineralize tooth enamel and cause erosion. So, what is the safest way to whiten your teeth?

“Most of the over the counter products you’ll see are in the 10 to 15 percent range of peroxide and they will work over time. You don’t want to overdo it,” said Zak.

Be sure to keep your mouth closed in the pool as well. Chemicals like antimicrobials and chlorine give the water a higher pH than your saliva, which means the acidity can cause sensitivity and developing brown tartar deposits on your teeth.

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