Teeth Whitening: Debunking The Myths?
The life of a medical professional can be filled with debunking myths that patients learn from Dr. Google. It can waste a lot of time and money. It can also be damaging to the patient’s teeth.
Of course, everyone wants to have whiter and brighter smiles. 98% of patients asked said they would love some form of teeth whitening treatment. Sometimes, patients will turn to a natural or home remedy thinking it may be easier or cheaper than a treatment from their dentist.
Unfortunately, there is no lack of misinformation with damaging effects that patients can find in articles, blogs, vlogs, or on social media. Ideally, when the patient is in the chair, we have the best chance to educate them on the pros and cons of uninformed decisions and the dangers that present themselves.
What are the current trends?
Charcoal and Baking Soda: There is a significant trend toward using charcoal to clean and potentially whiten teeth. There is no evidence to back up any claims that using charcoal toothpaste and baking soda can help whiten teeth. With nothing to back efficacy claims, there is also nothing to say it is safe either.
Oil Pulling: A traditional home remedy, sometimes using sunflower oil or, more recently, coconut oil for a better taste. The aim would be to swirl the oil around the mouth and ensure it is sifted through the teeth. Some patients are even adding turmeric to the mixture. Again, there is nothing to back any claims that this works.
Using Acidic Foods to Scrub Teeth: Any acidic foods, including oranges and lemons, are recommended online. The acid in the foods is more damaging to the enamel of teeth than bleaching them. It is already a recommendation that we should limit acidic foods to avoid any damage to our teeth, and we should definitely not be using the juices of lemons to scrub them.
Starting the Honest Conversation with Patients
As dentists, we have the best opportunity to speak to patients about these myths. Of course, it needs to be a careful conversation not to insult anything they have already tried. Ensuring that the patient gets the most updated and safe processes and remedies to implement is crucial.
It is a great idea to have a question that can open the door to the conversation about teeth whitening on the patient intake form.
If they check the box for more information, it is easy to access the remedies. Starting the conversation about what they know about it, what they have tried, and their habits like coffee or tea drinking or smoking tobacco.
Once you have the data from the patient, it is easy to offer a credible solution. There are non-invasive options like whitening toothpaste, through to gels, and retainers to whiten teeth overnight.
It all depends on what the patient is looking to achieve. It is time for the dental community to be the thought leader in the field and debunk the multitude of myths that they can so easily find.
As your dental health professionals, your well-being is important to us. We are here to assist in your teeth whitening. Feel free to reach out and call the office should you have any concerns or questions at 561-482-7008.
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