Everybody seems to want whiter teeth. And why not? First impressions are made in an instant, and a bright smile telegraphs not just mood, but also attractiveness. And this matters because a body of research stretching back to around 1920 has shown that once people are perceived positively for one thing, they're more likely to be perceived positively in other areas as well. This is a cognitive bias is known as the "Halo Effect"— and it explains in part why something as simple as a smile can instantly translate to socially desirable traits, such as youth, vigor, confidence, attention to detail, intelligence and success. Knowing this goes a long way to explaining why we're all so interested in showcasing a grin full of pearly white teeth.
DIY Teeth Whitening
And once we decide we want whiter teeth, we tend to want to get started right away. At-home teeth whitening techniques promise a brighter smile with minimal cost or time investment. But that doesn't mean it's a great idea to try any DIY teeth whitening treatment you read about right away. Check with your dentist before trying any new teeth treatments, even if the ingredients sound unobjectionable to you. Lemon juice is commonly recommended to whiten teeth, but dentists point out that it's an incredibly acidic substance that can erode tooth enamel which leaves your teeth susceptible to further staining, decay and sensitivity. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are two other popular at-home teeth whiteners. Some at-home remedies suggest using one or the other or a combination of the two, but don't try this by yourself.
Technically, yes, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are effective for whitening teeth. The problem comes with the application. Simply put, at-home toothpaste or whitening preparations can be too tricky to get right.
DIY Hydrogen Peroxide Drawbacks
Hydrogen peroxide is well known for its power to whiten teeth, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to use it on your own. Hydrogen peroxide can be toxic if ingested, so any remedy would have to make sure you don't swallow it, but allow enough exposure to actually lighten stains.
At-home Baking Soda Cons
Baking soda is also known to be effective at whitening teeth but it can be abrasive when used incorrectly. The abrasiveness of baking soda can can cause weakened enamel and increase tooth sensitivity. Certain preparations claim to combine the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda in the proper ratio to keep the baking soda from thinning the enamel, but it's not a gamble dentists want you to take regularly.
Safe Smile Brighteners
To get the benefit of these powerful smile brightening ingredients at home, look for products made with hydrogen peroxide or baking soda. Check with your dentist to find products that provide the effectiveness without the risk of damaging your teeth. Whitening toothpaste is a great type of product that has recommended teeth-strengthening ingredients such as fluoride in addition to the power of ingredients like hydrogen peroxide and baking soda — in the right amounts that make them safe for your teeth.