We’re not suggesting that the internet is bad, but sometimes, a little bit of knowledge in the wrong hands can wreak havoc. Every time we’re online, we see ads for miracle products and articles about new beauty trends — all that promise to make you healthy and attractive. More and more, we’re seeing patients that are unknowingly causing harm to their teeth with these trends. What particular trends should you avoid, and have you already damaged your teeth?
The Illusion of Control
So many things in life are out of our control. When we get a chance to take an active role in how we look or feel, we go for it. We completely understand that this is why our patients and others are willing to try things that people swear by on the internet. The current trends that you should avoid are:
- Hot Water With Lemon — This might be good for your body and kick-start your digestive system, but it is NOT good for your teeth. Lemons are highly acidic and can weaken tooth enamel, which is your first layer of protection against decay. If you insist on this daily drink, try using a straw to bypass the teeth and minimize the amount of acidity they are exposed to.
- Brushing With Charcoal — While it’s true that charcoal may remove surface stains on your teeth, its abrasive properties can also cause irreversible damage to your enamel. The irony is that, once your enamel is gone, the yellowish color of the dentin shows through and makes your teeth look dingy. The safest way to whiten your teeth is with a peroxide-based product that is used under my supervision.
- Brushing With or Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar — Vinegar is a multitasker when it comes to cleaning and staying healthy. But do you really want to clean your teeth with something that is powerful enough to clean a shower? No! Like lemon, vinegar is highly acidic and will destroy your enamel. Whatever you do, don’t brush your teeth with it. If you drink vinegar for health reasons, do it after brushing your teeth so you have a protective layer of fluoride.
- Oil Pulling — As trendy as it is, oil pulling has actually been around for centuries. It involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil around your mouth for up to 20 minutes before spitting it out. While this is not harming your teeth per se, there is no data to suggest it cleans, sanitizes, or whitens them as promised. Save yourself 20 minutes a day by brushing with fluoride toothpaste and ask me about how to safely and effectively whiten your teeth.
- Using Fluoride-Free Toothpaste — Sure, you can brush your teeth and get them relatively clean with fluoride-free toothpaste, but what you CAN’T do is protect them from decay. There are those who suggest that fluoride is to blame for a host of health conditions, but research has shown that it is only toxic when ingested in large amounts. Stick with an American Dental Association–approved fluoride toothpaste and follow the directions on the tube: Use only a pea-sized amount of paste and DO NOT SWALLOW.
As happy as we are to learn that our patients are interested in keeping their teeth sparkling white and clean, we wish they’d turn to the experts — aka the US — before doing something that may cause more harm than good. The next time you learn about a new trend in dentistry, be sure to contact our office to make sure it’s safe. Be well until your next appointment!