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Are These Self-Care Trends Hurting Your Teeth?

December 2, 2021 – Cosmetic Dentist Miami

Are These Self-Care Trends Hurting Your Teeth? Miami, FL

[Dental]

Another day, another social media wellness craze. Don’t get me wrong — I’m here for a good TikTok self-care challenge as much as the next person. But there’s no denying that some of these trends range from plain silly to downright dangerous. Here are the 4 viral wellness “hacks” that are definitely hurting your teeth. 

1. CBD Gummies

There’s nothing inherently wrong or harmful about CBD. Studies show that CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, can effectively treat chronic pain, lower anxiety, and even minimize your risk for gum disease by reducing inflammation. The problem is that some of the means by which CBD is consumed, namely CBD gummies, can be incredibly harmful to your teeth.

Much like regular candy, most CBD gummies are packed with sugar and sugar-derived ingredients, like corn syrup and fructose. These sugars are oral bacteria’s favorite food. Once you eat a sugary treat like a CBD gummy, the bacteria within your mouth eat and digest it, producing acidic substances that break down your enamel (the shiny, ultra-tough protective layer of your teeth) little by little. 

This is made worse by the gelatin added to gummies to give them their characteristic chewy texture. The sticky consistency of gummies makes it easier for residues to adhere to your teeth, allowing bacteria to feast on its sugars for extended periods of time. This eventually causes your enamel to erode to the point that a hole (aka a cavity) is formed. If left untreated, that cavity can spread into the deeper layers of your tooth, causing pain and potentially tooth loss. 

The solution? Opt for sugar-free CBD gummies or choose other modes of consumption, like CBD oil or broad-spectrum softgels. And always make sure you always brush and floss after eating sugary treats — your enamel will thank you!

2. Charcoal Toothpaste

Remember when activated charcoal was everywhere, from face masks to nose strips all the way to hamburger buns and even… ice cream? Activated charcoal is a fine, black powder that can be made from coal, sawdust, bone char, peat, and other materials. It was and still is touted as a “cure-all” remedy for a variety of ailments, including indigestion, acne, and even warding off hangovers. 

Thankfully, the ink-black food trend has mostly died — I don’t know about you, but there’s something about charcoal fish and chips that makes me want to run in the opposite direction, fast. But activated charcoal remains a popular ingredient in skin and oral care products, particularly whitening toothpastes, which begs the question: is activated charcoal safe for teeth?

More research is needed, but according to a 2017 review of studies published by the American Dental Association, there is not enough evidence to validate the safety or cosmetic or health benefits of activated charcoal. 

Charcoal toothpaste is marketed as a whitening agent that can absorb particles from teeth, but that title is a little misleading. Activated charcoal is an abrasive substance, which, as you might imagine, can actually erode the protective layer of your teeth called enamel. 

Using abrasive chemicals that wear your enamel can make your teeth appear yellower than they are because they expose the softer, yellow layer that sits under the enamel called dentin. This also makes your teeth more likely to get stained from foods and beverages. Additionally, charcoal products tend to contain bentonite clay, a mineral that sometimes can include silica, a known human carcinogenic. 

The verdict on this one: you’re better off skipping it. To keep your pearly whites nice and shiny, opt for professional tooth whitening at your dentist’s office and be sure to brush and floss daily. And as always, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment [here] or call Dr. Patty Miami at (###-###-####) if you have questions about which teeth whitening option is best for you. We’re here to help! 

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Is there something apple cider vinegar, or ACV, can’t do? The popular home remedy lauded for its medicinal superpowers has been used for centuries as a means to lose weight, improve digestion, lower blood pressure, treat wounds, improve heart health, and much, much more. 

In recent years, though, the idea of ACV as an effective all-natural teeth whitener has gained traction in social media. But is it as great as some people make it out to be?

Not really. If you’ve ever chugged a spoonful of ACV, you know how astringent it is. ACV is a fermented vinegar with an average pH of 2.5 to 3.075, which basically means that it is very acidic. Acidic substances like undiluted ACV are great for removing the plaque from your teeth, but they also soften your enamel, making it more susceptible to attack from decay-causing bacteria. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the health benefits of ACV, however. If ACV is part of your wellness regime, here are some ways to consume it without harming your teeth:

  • Dilute it: try mixing 1 or 2 tablespoons with a full glass of water
  • Add it to food to avoid direct contact to your teeth
  • Drink it through a straw
  • Rinse with water after taking it
  • Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth: ACV softens your enamel, so waiting before brushing protects it from being swept away by your toothbrush’s bristles

4. Hydrogen Peroxide Bleaching

Hydrogen peroxide has remained the most popular DIY teeth whitening method for decades, probably because it’s a standard ingredient in many professional and OTC whitening treatments and because it’s readily available and very affordable. 

In its undiluted state, hydrogen peroxide is a highly reactive chemical made up of both hydrogen and oxygen. It’s a natural antiseptic, oxidizer, and a potent bleaching agent — if you ever made the mistake of frying lightening your hair with hydrogen peroxide when you were a teen, you know what I’m talking about. 

Unlike other DIY teeth whitening methods that simply do not work, using hydrogen peroxide on your teeth will make them a shade or two lighter. It whitens your teeth by oxidizing and thus dissolving surface stains, and it can even kill off some of the harmful bacteria that cause plaque and tartar to build up. 

The average concentration of store-bought hydrogen peroxide, about 3%, is typically not enough to damage your teeth, but it may irritate your gums and cause unnecessary sensitivity to hot and cold foods and liquids. Not to mention that swallowing hydrogen peroxide can cause serious damage to your esophagus and internal organs. 

At-home whitening products usually have a higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide, about 10%, but many unregulated kits have been found to contain dangerous levels — as much as 33% percent or more. These treatments can cause serious chemical burns, damage your enamel, and increase your risk for oral infections. 

If you want to bleach your teeth at home using hydrogen peroxide, we recommend sticking to an ADA-approved whitening toothpaste. Or better yet, see your dentist to find out if they can hook you up with professional custom bleaching trays. Some of these trays, like the [KoR system] that we offer at Dr. Patty Miami, can whiten your teeth permanently and even fade hard-to-remove tetracycline stains. 

Always do your research before trying viral wellness trends — remember that you only have one set of natural teeth, so treat it well! Call us today at (###-###-####) or [click here] to schedule an appointment to learn more about our teeth whitening services in Miami. 

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