Dental Health Blog

The facts and fiction of DIY teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures and has become a massive industry with whitening fads and plenty of DIY kits available. These trends include at-home trays, oil pulling, activated charcoal, and the use of everyday ingredients found in your kitchen. While DIY teeth whitening products are generally safe and likely won’t land you in emergency dental services, there are a few important things to know before you purchase a kit.

As your Calgary SE dental clinic, we understand and relate to the confidence boost that a bright, white smile can provide. We want to make sure you’re whitening your teeth safely and preserving the health of your teeth for as long as possible. Let’s look at some of the facts and fiction of some of the latest DIY teeth whitening fads.

Does oil pulling whiten teeth?

Oil pulling involves swishing oil (most commonly coconut oil) in your mouth to whiten teeth. Some add spices like turmeric to remove stains and whiten your teeth by a shade or two.

  • Fact: Using oil and pungent spices can corrode dental materials used for fillings and crowns. This DIY teeth whitening method can actually loosen crowns.
  • Fiction: There are no studies or scientific evidence that prove oil pulling is guaranteed to whiten teeth safely.

Does lemon and baking soda whiten teeth?

Lemon and baking soda is an old-fashioned mixture that has been around for ages. It’s typically been used to whiten the underarm or pelvic area, which has led others to believe that the same formula can lift teeth stains.

  • Fact: Lemon is acidic, and baking soda is abrasive. Regularly brushing your teeth with this mixture can erode your tooth’s enamel, leaving your teeth susceptible to decay.
  • Fiction: There is no proof that lemon and baking soda will whiten your teeth. The risk of eroding your tooth’s enamel is not worth the scientific experiment.

Does activated charcoal whiten teeth?

From skincare products to vitamins, the activated charcoal fad is everywhere. You may have seen plenty of YouTube videos of people brushing their teeth with black toothpaste or using other products to lift stains and whiten teeth.

  • Fact: The texture of activated charcoal is abrasive and will wear down your tooth enamel. Activated charcoal toothpaste that advises you to use the product regularly scrubs away at the enamel over time.
  • Fiction: While your teeth may seem whiter after using an activated charcoal product, it’s not a sustainable, safe, or long-term method to lift stains.

Final thoughts

There is no other teeth whitening method that is as effective or safer than have it done by your local Calgary SE dentist’s office. Further, your teeth may not whiten evenly with DIY methods if you’ve had fillings or crowns. You may also be unknowingly applying products into a cavity, which can create other problems.

Your dentist will assess the health of your teeth first and identify any crowns or fillings that may not whiten along with your surrounding teeth. The products that dentists use in the office are generally stronger and can whiten your teeth quicker while doing so in a safe environment. If you want to preserve the health of your natural teeth while leaving with a brighter, whiter smile, bottom line - always go to a professional!


Medically reviewed by Dr. Gurshant Grewal - a Registered Dentist on July 5, 2021

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