There’s no doubt that teeth whitening is one of the most popular dental treatments out there. However, with popularity comes severe myths and misconceptions. In the pursuit of whiter and shinier teeth, many people have run into products and treatments that do way more harm than good for their oral health. Here are some myths about whitening treatments that you should watch out for.
Myth #1: Over-the-counter products are as strong as professional treatments
Although whitening strips, toothpaste, and home whitening kits are good for removing stains in a pinch, they aren’t as strong or long-lasting as professional treatments. Unlike OTC products, which only whiten the surface of teeth, professional tooth whitening removes stains that have gathered below the surface and inside of tooth enamel. Although OTC products do contain some whitening ingredients, they aren’t formulated to last as long as professional treatments.
OTC products also come with the risk of abrasive ingredients or incorrect usage. For instance, abrasive charcoal toothpaste has been known to damage enamel and tooth structure. Some whitening strips, while normally safe, can also damage teeth if they are used way too much. On the other hand, professional whitening treatments are always done by trained professionals with no risk at all to the patient. Many dentists are specially trained to measure the right amount of ingredients to use and whiten teeth in a way that won’t cause you any pain or discomfort.
Myth #2: Crowns, veneers, and fillings can be whitened
Crowns, veneers, and fillings are made of artificial ingredients that won’t react well to most whitening gels. Since most whitening products used by your dentist are specially formulated for natural teeth, they won’t do much for anything made of plastic or porcelain. Trying to use whitening products on your crowns or fillings will only result in severely discolored teeth, so it’s best to either whiten your natural teeth first or replace your fillings with better-colored ones instead.
Myth #3: Stronger products are better to use
This isn’t always true. How teeth respond to bleaching and whitening varies from person to person, so there’s no guarantee that using a stronger whitening gel will give you the results you want. Some OTC products containing stronger products can even damage enamel and erode teeth instead of giving you the bright and pearly white smile that you want.
Some people recommend rubbing teeth with acidic citrus fruits to achieve quick results. However, this doesn’t actually remove stains. In fact, it can also damage enamel and infect teeth with nasty germs and bacteria. It’s far better to take things slow and stick to products recommended by your dentist.
Myth #4: Oil pulling makes teeth whiter
Oil pulling, a popular home treatment that involves gargling with coconut oil to whiten teeth, is not a proven or safe alternative to professional teeth whitening. While some people might claim that it removes 'toxins' and bacteria from your mouth, there's just no evidence to prove that it can work as well as regular brushing and flossing. In fact, if you suffer from cavities or other underlying oral health problems, it could even make your oral health worse.
Myth #5: It’s painful and takes forever
Most pain or discomfort that people feel during whitening treatments is usually caused by underlying oral health problems, such as cavities or tooth decay. You’re also more likely to feel pain if you’ve increased your tooth sensitivity by using OTC whitening products or damaging your teeth in any other way. But during most whitening treatments, your dentist will practice proper precautions to ensure that you feel as little discomfort as possible. If you have sensitive teeth, your dentist will use a toothpaste containing ingredients that can calm your nerves, such as potassium nitrate.
Another common myth about whitening treatments is that they take several hours to complete. In reality, most whitening treatments nowadays rarely take more than an hour to finish.
Myth #6: Whitening is bad for tooth enamel
Many people are afraid to get their teeth professionally whitened due to the myth that professional whitening products are no different than bleach or abrasive cleaners. In reality, most whitening gels and other products used by your dentist are specially tested and made to be safe for your health. They don’t contain any harmful acids or abrasive ingredients and instead rely on harmless water and oxygen compounds to get rid of stubborn stains. Furthermore, professional whitening treatments are done not by stripping off layers of your teeth but instead penetrating the surface so that your inner tooth enamel becomes free of stains and discoloration.
Myth #7: One whitening treatment lasts a lifetime
Although permanent pearly whites might sound good, the truth is that just one whitening treatment won’t last forever. Over time, our teeth will lose their lustrous white color as we consume coffee, candy, and other teeth-staining products every day. Furthermore, stains caused by aging and eroded enamel can’t really be removed at all. If you really want to maintain your pristine pearly white smile for months or years, you’ll need to get treatments as needed and avoid harmful habits like smoking or consuming sugary food.