What to look for when considering at-home teeth whitening.
As a relatively “new” industry with more and more products and services promising to whiten such a delicate part of the body, coupled with what seems like never-ending horror stories of teeth whitening gone wrong – no wonder consumers are cautious and (understandably) unsure about teeth whitening. After all – it does go in the mouth and we all have the right to know what we are putting in there.
As some of you may (or may not) be aware, teeth whitening legislation in Australia was “tightened” late last year (2011). Unfortunately some companies selling consumer teeth whitening products were getting away with non-disclosure of ingredients as well as improper labelling on product packaging, to name a few things. The ACCC is now focused more than ever, on fostering safe teeth whitening practices in Australia through oversight of consumer whitening products. As the leading provider of consumer teeth whitening products in Australia, health and safety is integral to our business and it is integral for consumers to be aware what to look out for when considering home whitening options:
1. Formulas containing 18% Carbamide Peroxide (6% Hydrogen Peroxide) or less. As part of these new changes in Australia, these are the new maximum levels of Carbamide Peroxide (active bleaching ingredient) allowed in the sale of over-the-counter products. Ensure your product does not contain more than 18% Carbamide Peroxide (or 6% Hydrogen Peroxide) – even though higher strengths may be safe in the right formulations, these are now un-regulated for sale in Australia (unless under guidance of a Dentist).
2. Products which have full disclosure of all ingredients (including the strength of the bleaching agent).
3. Thorough directions for usage including company contact details in Australia.
4. Cautions on the packaging. All teeth whitening kits should contain thorough cautions including when teeth whitening should not be used, and health and safety cautions (keep an eye out for an upcoming blog which explores when teeth whitening may not be suitable).
5. Ph-neutral formula for health of the enamel. As most of us are aware, we have a layer of enamel over our teeth which somewhat acts as a protective layer. Acidic consumables can ‘eat away’ at this enamel (eg, soft drinks, fruit juices, and acidic toothpastes / mouthwashes). To minimise chance of enamel wear, you should look for products with ph neutral formulations such as White My Bite’s range of professional teeth whitening kits.
Be sure to keep checking back regularly as we explore a wide range of topics relating to teeth whitening and dental care. If you have a specific question or topic you want discussed, please email us at email@example.com
By Sandra La Scala
ARE YOU A HARD BRUSHER? OR ENJOY THE FEEL OF THOSE HARD BRISTLES ON YOUR TEETH…..READ ON!
So you value a nice, white smile. We all do. It’s one of the first things we notice on people, after all.
As a teeth whitening specialist, I hold a lot of teeth whitening training sessions, and have the pleasure of speaking to many people about the topic. I also get asked a lot of questions and uncover a lot of interesting habits along the way!
One of the biggest misconceptions is that brushing harder is removing more stains and thus is better for you. This may be true in the short-term, where your teeth may feel and look cleaner straight after brushing, but we have to think long-term, as afterall, we only have one set of natural adult teeth, so it’s in your best interests to look after them!
Brushing too hard, with an abrasive tooth paste, and/or too hard a brush is common for people to do, particularly if they care about their smile (heck, I was the biggest culprit!). If you haven’t been to your dentist for a while, or just haven’t discussed your brushing methods, you may have forgotten a little about Brushing 101. Picture this scenario: a heavy smoker who is conscious of the colour of their teeth and the smell of their breath purchases the hardest bristle brush they can find on the supermarket shelves, together with a strong toothpaste formulated especially for smokers. Morning, noon and night they duck into the bathroom and scrub scrub scrub that nicotine staining and odor away, and the harder, the better, right?!
Certainly the immediate effects are positive- fresher breath, teeth feel cleaner. But in the long run, you're scrubbing away the surface of your teeth, one miniscule layer at time! You may even be causing some soft-tissue (gum) damage, but you won’t really know until you’ve visited your dentist and they point it out. Some can even be left with permanent gum recession, which cannot be reversed.
Example of gum recession
So, back to the scrubbing……eventually, you may notice your teeth getting more yellow and assume you're not doing a good enough job. So, what next? Scrub even harder, longer, and more often. But the yellow color only gets more noticeable. This may not be stubborn stains that you’re seeing, it could infact be the yellow dentin layer starting to show through, which is found underneath your layer of enamel (the hard, protective outer layer of your teeth). Tooth whiteners typically will only work if the enamel is still intact, as dentin, (which is typically yellow in colour), is difficult to whiten.
Illustration shows the layer of enamel and dentin
So it’s in your best interest to keep your enamel in tact, and remember these key points:
• If you use a medium or hard brush, throw it away and get yourself a soft or ultra-soft bristle brush. Hard and medium brushes are sold because people still buy them, not because dentists recommend them!
• It’s ok to brush thoroughly, but gently. Giving your arms a workout whilst brushing can erode enamel and cause your gums to recede, and also leave teeth permanently sensitive.
• Be wary of abrasive toothpastes- ask your dentist which ones are best.
• Is you haven’t done so recently- take a visit to your dentist for a clean and check-up. Ask them to remind you of the proper brushing and flossing technique.
• AND REMEMBER – YOU ONLY HAVE ONE SET OF NATURAL TEETH IN THIS LIFETIME, SO LOOK AFTER THEM!
Check back soon for some more tips, news and goss!
By Sandra La Scala