Although teeth whitening products are readily available in stores and online, many consumers do not understand the science behind the process. Here are six teeth-whitening myths that pop up around the internet—and the facts behind the statements.
Many people think that one successful summer of teeth-whitening strips will “cure” the stains they had before. However, you will need to return to your whitening treatment for touch-ups periodically. Diet, smoking, and dark liquids like tea and coffee all contribute to the discoloration of teeth. If you want your teeth to stay white, you will have to add whitening to your oral care routine.
Another myth is that whitening toothpaste can replace visits to the dentist. The truth is that a whitening agent must be left on the teeth for a period of time to be effective. Since brushing your teeth only takes a few minutes, it simply doesn’t have enough time to remove deep stains. That’s not to say whitening toothpaste is not helpful, but it will not whiten teeth as well as a treatment from the dentist.
A common misconception is that whitening can remove all the stains from your teeth. It can be hard for some people to have success with tooth whitening, and with aging, our teeth tend to change in color and become yellow. Smoking and drinking coffee will often cause further staining with continued use. Discoloration can also be a side effect of certain medications. Many of these stains simply will not come out. Even when you finish a treatment, your teeth may not be “pure” white.
This old wives’ tale says that rubbing crushed strawberries or lemon pulp on your teeth will result in a brighter color. While it’s possible that the acid from these fruits helps to clean the teeth and remove stains, the practice may actually be harmful. The fact is that acids can destroy tooth enamel, leading to more problems. Using acidic fruits to clean your teeth may land you in the dentist’s chair resulting in costly treatment to repair any damage.
Time is relative. While many commercials advertise quick teeth whitening with UV light, the change is not instant. Although this method is faster than over-the-counter whitening strips, you will still need to spend 45 minutes to an hour in the dentist’s chair. You may also require follow-up appointments. While UV light has conclusively shown positive effects when used to whiten teeth, it’s important to remain patient and not think the process will work quite as fast as a television infomercial.
Our last myth is that teeth whitening is expensive. Professional teeth whitening can be a significant investment. But there are many budget options. The fact is, there are many over-the-counter options including toothpastes and strips which can help remove basic stains. Over-the-counter options should work for most people if used correctly. Of course, regular brushing and flossing are other inexpensive options that help keep your teeth white.
Health and fashion change all the time, but having a healthy smile will never go out of style. There are lots of myths when it comes to teeth whitening, but it’s best to do a little research and discover the facts before following the latest fad you find on social media. To be safe, it’s always best to ask an expert, and when in doubt, talk to your dentist.