You may have heard a lot of things about teeth whitening, but not all of them are entirely true. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about some of the myths surrounding this process.
Most people would like to have whiter teeth. But it’s important to understand what works and what doesn’t. I will explore 10 different myths about teeth whitening, so I can give you the facts and set the record straight.
Myth #1: You can whiten your crowns, veneers, and fillings
This is simply not true. Teeth whitening is only for your teeth. So, if you look in the mirror and see a discolored crown on a front tooth, that is going to stay that color even after you whiten. What’s more, the natural teeth surrounding the crown will become whiter after the treatment, and this might make the crown appear even more obviously discolored. It’s okay though if you plan to replace some of your crowns or veneers.
Myth #2: You can whiten your teeth with something acidic
Some people believe that using something acidic like a fruit can whiten their teeth. For example, rubbing lime or lemon across your teeth will make them whiter. This might actually work because acid can dissolve some stains. However, acid also removes tooth structure. So, along with teeth whitening you might end up irreversibly damaging your teeth. I would avoid using acid on the teeth for this reason.
Myth #3: You can’t have teeth whitening if you have sensitive teeth
Dentists hear this all the time. While whitening can cause some temporary sensitivity, it is just that – temporary. I suggest you talk to your dentist about ways to manage sensitivity during whitening procedures. Some teeth whitening formulas actually contain desensitizing agents. Work on a strategy with your dentist. Even if you have sensitive teeth, there can certainly be a way to make your teeth whiter.
Myth #4: Teeth whitening damages your teeth
This is something you hear quite frequently. Now, if you use DIY kits or household items like acidic fruits, you could very well damage your teeth. But professional teeth whitening is done with high quality products and is quite safe as long as you follow the instructions. In fact, some teeth whitening formulas contain fluoride mineral which can actually strengthen your teeth.
Myth #5: Coconut oil can help whiten teeth
Coconut oil is a healthy oil in general. Swishing your mouth with coconut oil does not do any harm and may even have some health benefits. But there is no scientific proof that coconut oil can actually whiten your teeth. This is likely a harmless thing that you can try. But I would not expect pearly whites from this process.
Myth #6: Teeth whitening can give you a perfect smile
Teeth whitening can greatly improve the appearance of your teeth, but it’s not going to give you a perfect smile. Some of the stains will come off and your teeth will be a little bit whiter, but they won’t be perfect. The reason is that many factors go into making your teeth look perfect. Color is just one of them. The shape, position, translucency, and edges of your teeth all contribute to improving the overall appearance of your smile. Teeth whitening will make a nice difference, but don’t expect a perfect smile. Reasonable expectations are key to getting a good result.
Myth #7: Teeth whiteners can remove all discoloration
Teeth whitening can remove the vast majority of staining on your teeth, especially stains from foods and drinks like coffee, tea, wine, and chocolate – all those dark colored foods and drinks. But there are other factors that affect tooth color that whitening cannot address. Some things like genetically determined tooth color or discoloration due to root canal treatment will not respond to teeth whitening. There are other ways to handle these types of discolorations, but it is generally not correctable with regular whitening. I recommend you have an evaluation by your dentist so you can understand what’s going on and what exactly is causing your teeth to appear discolored.
Myth #8: Teeth whitening lasts for a lifetime
This is simply not the case. Our teeth accumulate stains because we are constantly exposing them to discoloring foods and drinks. As a result, teeth will continue to become discolored over time. But once you’ve found a color you like, it is relatively easy to maintain that with a convenient treatment like a tray system. It is very simple to touch your teeth up once in a while with a whitening gel. In that sense, your results can last forever, but you need to keep up with maintenance treatments.
Myth #9: Teeth whitener products are all the same
The teeth whitening products that you buy over-the-counter or online are not always as effective as going to the dentist for a professional whitening treatment. There are some products that work decently well for mild discoloration. If you buy a quality brand from a reputable source, you can actually get great results. Keep in mind though that these teeth whitening gels are very sensitive to temperature and storage and shipping conditions, and dentists often recommend storing them in the fridge. So, if you purchase teeth whitening products overseas or those that were stored in a warehouse for months that wasn’t temperature controlled, you might not get the expected results. Professionals, on the other hand, can use tray systems and some other methods that are not available over the counter. Therefore, professional whitening is well worth it for most people.
Myth #10: UV light can whiten teeth
UV light is not something you want to mess around with, especially in the face area and near your eyes. Moreover, it’s not really effective for whitening teeth. Some ways of using UV light may be mildly helpful (the research has shown mixed results), but it’s not worth the risk. If you’re truly interested in whitening your teeth with UV light, I suggest you talk to your dentist about the options. This way you can ensure you do it right and the teeth whitening actually works.
Express Dentist has a trusted network of experienced dental providers across the country. We are happy to help you find a dentist who offers professional teeth whitening. Feel free to reach out to us and we will help you make the right connection. So, here’s to a brighter smile!
About the author
Dr. Greg Grillo
Dr. Greg Grillo DDS studied at the University of Washington where he received a bachelors degree with Honors and later attended dental school on the same campus. Following school Dr. Greg served in the United States Navy as a dental officer. During this time he received advanced training in specialty areas of dentistry while also treating families of members of the military.
As well as sharing valuable information on dentistry and oral health, Dr. Greg remains a practicing dentist to this day. He works with families in the Okanogan Valley where he lives with his wife and three children.