There are hundreds of products out there that claim to whiten your teeth, but do any of them actually work? DIY Teeth Whitening can be harmful to your health. Let’s discuss what’s being sold at the drug stores.
DIY Teeth Whitening Caution
Recently, we learned of a new product called Luster Now that we think should be researched before you head to the store for this DIY Teeth Whitening science experiment. There is a whitening toothpaste you can buy and a whitening kit that includes a whitening rinse and even a whitening light. The toothpaste and kits are available at Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Amazon and countless other retailers.
The Lowdown on Luster Now’s Whitening Kits
Let’s look at the toothpaste first. The marketing material says,
“Developed by Dentists with Blueverite technology for the optical effect of whiter teeth, Luster Now gives you instant results that last for hours. Luster Now helps remove surface and deep stains all while keeping your breath fresh.”
What’s wrong with this picture?
What is “blueverite Technology?”
It’s blue dye (FD&C 1) and nothing more. The blue dye literally creates the optical illusion that your teeth are whiter. As this is the optical effect they are marketing, technically yes, it makes your teeth seem whiter, but it’s only for a short while, just like a black light (ultraviolet light) makes your teeth look white. Think of the Friends episode where Ross whitens his teeth and then goes in a dark room with a black light – funny stuff!
Tricky Marketing, that’s all it is.
Luster Now claims you will get “results that last for hours.” They themselves are making it clear with this exact statement that your teeth are only temporarily changing due to the optical effect of the blue dye. It is in no way a permanent or lasting change.
But At Least I’m Using Toothpaste … Right?
When looking at the ingredients for this toothpaste you can see that there is no fluoride in this toothpaste. This means there is no anti-cavity benefit to this toothpaste whatsoever, which is one of the main reasons to use toothpaste!
If You Want to Use It, Do So Sparingly
Keeping the above information in mind, we don’t have a problem with someone using this toothpaste for a very occasional use such as a date or social event where you need a whitening boost now. Whether it produces a noticeable change is up to you to decide. However, we are quite concerned about the continual ingestion of the blue dye — if it’s hanging around in your mouth long enough to create an effect that lasts for hours is it really safe for your body? Plus, giving up the therapeutic anti-cavity benefit of fluoride could prove to be pretty costly if you end up with caries.
On to the Luster Now Whitening Kit
This kit, which costs $38.99, comes with an accelerator mouth rinse, a super whitening gel, and an activating whitening light. According to the marketing, each component of the Luster Pro Whitening System is designed to quickly remove even the toughest stains. Other than the fact that the kit is pretty expensive, what’s wrong with this picture?
Nobody Likes Stains!
The main marketing hype is that this product removes years of tooth stains. It does not say that it whitens your teeth! Removing surface stains on your teeth does not create a permanent change to the color of your teeth. Yes, removing coffee stains will make your teeth look better without the stain, but they will still be the same color they always were.
What About This Cool DIY Teeth Whitening Light?
Unfortunately, bleach lights are really just a bunch of smoke and mirrors, whether they are used in a dental office or on your own. In the dental office, there is a bit of evidence that the heating from the light activates the bleach a bit more quickly but the research is not at all conclusive. What we do know is that holding your mouth open in the dental office for an hour with the bleach light on it dries out your teeth, and dried out teeth look whiter — another optical effect. Luster Pro is just trying to capitalize on the bleach light marketing hype.
The Science Behind the Whitening Rinse and Gel
It’s been proven that the only way to create lasting actual change to the color of your teeth is to have the tooth bleaching agent in intimate contact with your teeth for an extended period of time. Once saliva mixes with the bleach it dilutes and quickly becomes ineffective. This is why dental offices recommend custom-fitted bleaching trays which ensure the bleaching material is in direct contact with your teeth and that your saliva is not diluting it. We’re pretty sure it would be impossible for you to hold the rinse in your mouth for hours at a time without needing to breathe or swallow!
Also, if the gel is applied without cover and protection, it is just going to be quickly wiped away by your lips and tongue, diluted with saliva, and swallowed. In our opinion this is an expensive kit that isn’t going to actually whiten your teeth. If you want something in the same price range, an over the counter white strip such as Crest White Strips is going to give you better bang for your buck. At least here the bleach is being held in better contact with your teeth so you are truly going to get some degree of actual whitening. Of course, the best option for the most thorough teeth whitening is a professionally made, custom fitting kit from a dental office.
Here’s our popular related post by Dr. Heim A Pinterest DIY Teeth Whitening Nightmare.
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