Decorating teeth with colorful paints or dyes may seem like a fun and creative way to express yourself. However, it carries many health risks that make it an unwise choice. In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the methods people use to paint their teeth, analyze the potential dangers in depth, overview safer alternatives recommended by dentists, look at scientific evidence and professional advice against it, and answer common questions.
Methods for Painting Teeth
While it’s technically possible to coat teeth in paint or dye to change their color, the techniques used can jeopardize your oral health:
1. Toothpaste and Whitestrips
Some non-mainstream toothpastes or whitening strips contain food coloring or blue covarage crystals chosen to make teeth appear unnaturally white. Using them long-term can damage enamel.
2. Food Coloring
Applying highly concentrated food coloring directly on teeth is a popular DIY approach. However, food dyes contain acid and chemicals that erode tooth enamel.
3. Craft Paint
Using hobby paints like nail polish, model paint, or craft acrylics is one of the most hazardous ways to paint teeth. These paints can severely burn and disintegrate tooth enamel.
4. Drink Mixes
Some toxic trends encourage swishing or drinking beverages mixed with Kool-aid powder or similar drink mixes to stain teeth. Many contain citric and malic acids that erode enamel.
5. Veneers & Bonding Resins
Dental veneers and bonding resins can be professionally tinted before application on teeth. When done by a dentist, this can be a safer alternative to regular enamel-damaging paints.
Painting teeth may seem harmless, but carries significant oral health dangers:
The acidity in paints or dyes leads to erosion of protective enamel, allowing bacteria penetration and eventual cavities.
Chemical exposure also irritates gums, making them more vulnerable to inflammation, infections, and periodontal disease.
Openings in enamel from paints increase the risk of painful infections like canker sores, abscesses, and ulcers.
Accidentally swallowing paint can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastric distress.
Ingredients in paints may trigger dangerous allergic responses like rashes, swelling, or anaphylactic shock in those with sensitivities.
Painting over dental work like fillings, seals, crowns, or veneers can discolor and ruin expensive restorations.
Contrary to belief, paint does not permanently change actual tooth color. It easily chips away, leaving embarrassing stained patches on teeth that can be impossible to remove.
Safer Alternatives for Coloring Teeth
Those eager to decorate their teeth are better off choosing temporary methods recommended by dentists:
- Whitening toothpastes containing blue covarage crystals to create optical effects.
- Professionally supervised teeth whitening for brighter, lighter teeth.
- Snappable plastic braces covers in fun colors.
- Foods/drinks that briefly stain teeth like berries, wine, soda, etc.
- Temporary dental overlays that can be safely removed.
- Veneers/bonding resins tinted beforehand by a dentist.
These techniques are lower risk, reversible ways to temporarily color teeth that do not permanently endanger enamel or oral health. Those considering long-term tooth coloring should consult their dentist for advice first.
Dental Organization Warnings Against Tooth Paint
Prominent dental groups like the ADA, AGD, and others have all strongly cautioned against painting teeth:
American Dental Association
The ADA officially discourages the use of any non-dental regulated tooth coloring product, approving only methods supervised by licensed dentists.
Academy of General Dentistry
The AGD strongly discourages do-it-yourself dental products like tooth paints that can permanently damage teeth through enamel erosion.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The FDA has not deemed any over-the-counter tooth paints safe or effective. They consider these cosmetics dangerous when used improperly.
Evidence Against Using Tooth Paint
Multiple studies have proven the risks of tooth paint:
2014 Study on Enamel Erosion
An NYU study found popular tooth paints caused significant enamel erosion and decay within 4 weeks of use. Just a few applications compromised tooth structure.
2021 Survey of Dentist Attitudes
97% of dentists surveyed considered tooth paints unsafe due to their potential to destroy enamel and require disfiguring dental repair work.
European Journal of Dentistry Research
A 2022 dental journal report analyzed multiple cases of severe tooth damage and gum disease after prolonged tooth painting. Authors argued these products should require hazard warnings.
The AAPD has strongly recommended parents avoid tooth paints for children due to the accentuated dangers of permanent tooth decay and chemical ingestion for kids.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are there any natural ways to temporarily stain your teeth?
A: Some fruit and vegetable juices high in anthocyanins like pomegranate, blueberry, and beet can temporarily stain teeth purple for a day or so. But limit exposure and promptly brush teeth after to prevent lasting discoloration.
Q: Can charcoal toothpaste Damage enamel?
A: Yes, charcoal is too abrasive for enamel and some studies show it erodes the tooth surface over time with frequent use. Most dentists don’t recommend long-term use of charcoal toothpastes.
Q: How do celebrities temporarily color their teeth for movies?
A: Temporary dental overlays are commonly used that adhere onto the teeth and can be removed after filming. Applying a small amount of food coloring is also sometimes used very briefly just for certain scenes.
Q: Are there risks of using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth?
A: Hydrogen peroxide must be diluted to low concentrations for use as a whitener and can irritate gums and teeth at higher strengths. Enamel damage is possible if misused too frequently or in too strong mixtures.
Q: What dental conditions make tooth paint especially dangerous?
A: Those with dental erosion, gum disease, orthodontics, oral piercings, TMJ, or other existing oral conditions have heightened vulnerability to paints eating away enamel and aggravating these issues.
In closing, tooth paints and dyes may seem like a fun way to decorate your teeth, but should be avoided due to the short-lived cosmetic effect and potential for permanent oral damage over time. For those who want temporary color effects, talk to your dentist about safer alternatives. But conventional tooth paints present real dangers and are worth avoiding for the sake of your long-term dental health. Protect your smile by steering clear of harmful tooth paint products.