By: Ashleigh & Dr. Jones
The Internet is great. We can find a new restaurant, review vacuums, buy pretty much anything, review your favorite dentist *coughAlisonJonesDDScough*, and best of all, diagnose and treat our own medical problems. Well, maybe the last one is not the best.
I frequent the very popular website Pinterest on a fairly regular basis. At one time, I jumped on the Health & Beauty section and was amazed at all the homeopathic remedies for tooth aches, cavities, and teeth whitening. Actually, as I am writing this, I brought up that board and only had to scroll a couple pins down to see the "Dr. Oz home remedy for teeth whitening." It suggests mixing lemon juice and baking soda, applying to your teeth, and letting stand for one minute. May I remind everyone at this time that lemon is an acid. Baking soda is an abrasive. It hurts my teeth just thinking about it. Luckily, the last statement on the directions that his linked to said to not leave it on longer because it will start to erode your teeth. Yes, acid will erode enamel...enamel does NOT grow back!
I asked Dr. Jones her opinion for the "Dr. Oz Whitening" plan and she said this:
"Dr. Oz is a cardiologist, right? I wouldn't dream of providing my patients with advice to handle their cardiac issues. I would refer them directly to their physician and cardiologist. From a dentist's perspective, the combination of a strong acid and an abrasive to whiten teeth is not a good idea. There are much better, safer, more effective ways to whiten teeth. A home remedy such as this one is likely to cause much more damage than good. And what you think you might 'save' in the expense of whitening will most likely end up costing you more because of the potential damage you could cause."
When I saw the whitening home remedies, I then wondered about the other tooth related home remedies people are suggesting. And I just had to research. Honestly, I wish I hadn't. My reaction when I read these things was, "For real? People are doing this?" I took a step back in case working for a dental practice the last five years has jaded me. Hey, I am known as the "new-age hippy" around the office, so you think that I would be more receptive. But, there are claims of cavities "disappearing" after consuming raw butter, cod liver oil, butter oil, and a slew of other things just seems so unbelievable.
Let's start with what a cavity is and how it forms. A cavity is a hole in the tooth caused by tooth decay. When plaque (a sticky barrier of bacteria) occurs constantly on teeth, the bacteria creates acids that wear away the enamel (the protective tooth covering), causing a hole. The ADA sister-site, MouthHealthy.org, has a great video and explanation.
Dr. Jones' opinion:
"I'm sure that many people are looking for an 'easy fix' but there really is no science behind most of these claims of home remedies and natural fixes to support them. Tooth decay must by physically removed from a tooth by a dentist and repaired with the proper type of filling material or other restorative technique. Just as there is no better way to good health than proper nutrition and regular physical activity, there is no better way to take care of your mouth than to brush and floss and visit your dentist at least twice per year. It may be boring, but it's true.
I also think that the fear of the dentist causes people to look for alternatives that will 'fix' their problem without seeing a dentist. Visits to our office are not painful or scary and we are very sympathetic to patient's concerns, so we hope they come see us for sound, professional advice on how to whiten teeth or treat pain or other orally related problems. It also may be intriguing to discover a secret on the internet that could solve a problem and save you time and money...but usually these claims are not what they are cracked up to be.
So, the bottom line is...check with your dentist before trying any of these quick fix/home remedy ideas that pop up on social media or blogs. Anyone can write anything they want on the internet, so beware of the source from which you get your information. While there may be a sliver of truth to some of the claims, it is best to check with a professional. And just because something claims to be 'natural,' doesn't mean it's safe, effective and helpful. We know that poison ivy, snakes and spiders live in nature - but I don't want to mess with any of them! If we don't know the answer or are unfamiliar with a home remedy that you read about or becomes trendy, we love to learn new things and we will research it for you - like Ashleigh's oil pulling experiment. But I really can't say it enough - please just check with your dentist or doctor before trying any home remedies."
The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it is not a doctor. If you have a problem, please see your doctor, dentist, or other professional medical professional.
Oil Pulling Experiment Update:
Day 6. I have swished with coconut oil every morning between 5 - 15 minutes. I would probably do the full 20 minutes, but I usually have a little boy running into the bathroom wanting something, or trying to dive into the bathtub. So far, I haven't experienced any mind-blowing changes. But who knows...maybe tomorrow I wake up and have a Julie Roberts smile!
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Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist