12 Myths & Facts About Whitening Teeth

Gentle Dental

Smiling woman mouth with great teeth. Close up

Teeth whitening isn’t just for the rich and famous anymore. Everyone seems to be seeking out ways to make their teeth look whiter and brighter. Visit any grocery or drugstore, and you will find multiple shelves filled with tooth whitening products. Similarly, beauty magazines, blogs, and websites often contain articles on DIY or “natural” tooth whitening options.

The reality, is, however, that many of these products and remedies are ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. What makes this even more unfortunate is that top solutions for teeth whitening are both straightforward and affordable when performed by a cosmetic dentist.

Common Myths – Debunked

Here’s a list of common myths about whitening teeth. Do any of them come as a big surprise? Have you tried any of these remedies in the past?

Do Whitening Toothpastes Work?

Many companies sell so-called whitening toothpaste, often at a higher price than standard products: Don’t waste your money on them. The chemicals needed to whiten teeth effectively must remain in contact with the tooth for an extended period of time. Since most people brush and rinse their teeth in a matter of minutes, any whitening ingredient in the toothpaste simply won’t get the chance to start working.

Does Coconut Oil Whiten Teeth?

Many people use coconut oil in cooking, smoothies, and as a moisturizer for hair, face, and body. In fact, coconut oil sales topped $239 million in 2015, in part due to health claims made about the oil. One such claim is that swishing coconut oil around in your mouth, a holistic health treatment known as “oil pulling” can whiten teeth.

Despite the hype, however, there is no scientific evidence to support that coconut oil can whiten teeth.

Do Lemons and Strawberries Help Make Teeth Whiter?  

Some people use crushed strawberries or lemon juice to whiten their teeth. The problem with this method is that it may seem effective at first, but over time the acid in these fruits will eat away at your enamel. This damages the teeth and can result in your needing additional dental treatment later.

Are Hydrogen Peroxide or Baking Soda Safe DIY Teeth Whitening Solutions?

Neither hydrogen peroxide nor baking soda make good whitening treatments. Baking soda can disturb the balance of good to bad bacteria in your mouth, possibly triggering oral health problems. Hydrogen peroxide can create free radicals, causing tissue damage.

Tooth Whitening is Permanent, Right?

While it is true that tooth whitening offers long-term benefits, the aging process can still cause your teeth to yellow over time. Fortunately, your dentist can assist you in addressing this through whitening touchups.

Real Facts About Whitening Teeth

Now it’s time to look at some real facts about tooth whitening. Some of these may also come as a surprise:

Drugstore Whitening Products Are Not the Same as Professional Whitening Solutions

The strength of the whitening gel used in professional dentist offices may be stronger than that which is available in an at-home whitening kit. While it is also true that very strong gels can cause tooth sensitivity and irritation, everyone is different. That is why working with an experienced cosmetic dentist is often a good idea.

In addition, a dentist has significant experience in preparing custom whitening trays. A custom tray can help ensure that your whitening treatment gives you the results you desire.

UV Light Isn’t Necessary for Teeth Whitening

You may have seen dentists in movies or on TV using UV light as part of the tooth whitening process. The trouble is that there’s no real evidence that the UV light improves results. In addition, exposure to ultraviolet radiation can itself be dangerous.

Children Should Wait to Have Their Teeth Whitened

It is an unfortunate fact that some children have stained or discolored teeth. There are any number of causes for this condition, including poor oral hygiene as well as the use of certain medications. In general, it is best to delay tooth whitening as the process may have a negative impact on a child’s developing teeth. A pediatric dentist can discuss your concerns with you and offer a realistic timeline for treatment.

You Can’t Whiten a Crown or Implant

Synthetic teeth can’t be whitened, and the only way to address staining or discoloration is to have the tooth replaced. If you are considering implants or veneers, consider having your teeth whitened first, as you won’t be able to address discoloration after your procedure has been completed.

Professional Tooth Whitening is Unaffordable

While it is true that professional teeth whitening will cost you more than a kit purchased at your local drugstore, there is often a significant difference between the two experiences. Many people are pleasantly surprised to find out that professional tooth whitening is actually quite affordable. In addition, because the procedure is supervised by a dental professional, it is often safer and provides more satisfactory results.

At Gentle Dental, our staff is ready to provide you with the information you need to make a decision about whitening services. One of our cosmetic dentists can review your case and provide you with a variety of options for improving your smile. Our office staff will work with you to make sure you can get the dental care you deserve at a price you can afford. We accept major credit cards and financing programs are available.

Bottom Line

As is true of most things health-related, prevention is always preferable to treatment. You can prevent tooth discoloration and staining by regularly brushing and flossing, avoiding smoking, limiting consumption of beverages that stain teeth (such as tea, coffee, and wine), and getting regular professional cleanings.

If your teeth are already discolored, however, it’s a good idea to speak with one of Gentle Dental’s experienced cosmetic dentists. Our professionals can evaluate your teeth and make recommendations regarding improving their appearance. Our staff is also happy to assist you with understanding treatment options and managing costs. You can find the Gentle Dental office closest to you, here.