Will Paint-On Instant Tooth Polish Harm Your Teeth?

There are many types of dentistry, but it essentially all boils down to whether the process is clinical (strongly recommended in order to preserve teeth or oral tissues) or cosmetic (strictly for improving the appearance of teeth or gums). Teeth whitening is undoubtedly a cosmetic procedure, and your desired shade of white can even be painted on like cosmetics. Are these instant, paint-on temporary whiteners a substitute for standard teeth whitening?

Like Nail Polish

The products in question are generally sold as tooth paint or tooth polish—and are painted on much like nail polish. Also like nail polish, they're available in a variety of colours depending on whether you want a subtle change or a dazzlingly bright Hollywood type of smile. 

A Little Practise

There's likely to be some trial and error involved in using tooth polish. It can take a little practice to apply an even coat of the product to your teeth. Your teeth must be as dry as possible for the plasticiser in the polish to bond with your dental enamel (the outer surface of your teeth). But once you've gotten the hang of the application process, you'll have temporarily though instantly whitened teeth. So why isn't this immediate paint-on option the default method for DIY teeth whitening?

The Results Are Temporary

As mentioned, the results are temporary. And the duration of your results depends on your behaviour. For example, if you apply tooth polish and go out for drinks with friends, the product will quickly wear away. Eating will also quickly erode the polish from your teeth. You could conceivably touch up your teeth while out and about, but this is hardly practical. And then there's the issue of what else is in the product, and what these ingredients may be doing to your teeth.

Safe For Human Consumption

Although any tooth polish on the Australian market will be safe for human consumption (and some ingestion of the product is unavoidable), it doesn't mean that it's safe for your teeth. Cola and other soft drinks high in sugar are safe for human consumption, but they don't do your dental enamel any favours. The food additives in tooth polish may be acidic in nature. For instance, triethyl citrate, derived from citric acid, aids the plasticiser. Regularly applying an acidic compound to your teeth can have long-term effects, and your protective dental enamel may corrode, leading to tooth decay.

Occasional or one-off usage of tooth polish is harmless enough, but the safest way to whiten your teeth still involves a trip to your dentist. Professional whitening at your local dental clinic safely produces immediate results, which can then be maintained using a DIY teeth whitener at home.