Tooth whitening is an incredibly popular cosmetic dentistry procedure, and it’s no surprise. With Hollywood always flashing us those pearly white smiles from its stars, and articles saying every successful person has a dazzling white smile, it’s hard not to see the appeal. But before you go diving into it, there are a few things you should know first.
Myth 1: Tooth Whitening Makes Your Teeth More Sensitive
This myth is somewhat founded in fact, but it has been inflated a bit. The fact is that during the process of bleaching your teeth to whiten them, your teeth are exposed to a lot of chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide. These products strip away some of the enamel on the teeth, including the stains. This process does not hurt, but it can lead to some heightened sensitivity for the following few hours. Added sensitivity of the teeth and gums shortly after a whitening treatment is not uncommon, and a lot of dentists have gels that help protect against this sensitivity. This heightened sensitivity can last from 24 to 48 hours, and after that your teeth will return to their normal state, with no lingering sensitivity at all.
Myth 2: Whitening Toothpaste & Gum Is Just As Good As Professional Treatment
While it is true that products like whitening toothpaste, mouthwashes and gum have a whitening element to them, the reality is that they don’t work. This is mainly because the levels of whitening chemicals in these products are so low and so weak, that they really don’t have any effect at all. For any whitening chemicals to have a real effect on your teeth, they need to be in contact with your teeth for at least 20 minutes. That doesn’t mean that you should coat your teeth in whitening toothpaste for half an hour – the chemicals within them are too weak to actually make a real difference.
Myth 3: There Are Effective Home Remedies For Tooth Whitening
If you type ‘home tooth whitening methods’ into Google, you will find hundreds of different remedies to give you that dazzling white smile you are after. Everything from olive oil, orange peel, baking soda rinses or even direct contact with hydrogen peroxide has been tried and tested at home – and none of them work. In some cases, like with hydrogen peroxide, the effects can actually be harmful, as hydrogen peroxide causes free radical reactions within your cells, and these reactions age living tissue, giving you the opposite effect. Studies have been done into these ‘placebo treatments’, and they have revealed negative results on all counts.
Myth 4: Teeth Whitening Is Permanent
Much as we might like it to be – tooth whitening is not a permanent procedure. While it will whiten your teeth at the time, it does not prevent further staining. This means that every time you drink coffee or red wine, or eat sugars you are risking reversing the whitening procedure. The best way to prevent further staining is to brush your teeth twice a day, floss and drink water after eating or drinking anything that will stain your teeth. You can preserve your whitening, but you can’t make it last forever.
Myth 5: Teeth Whitening Will Give You A ‘Hollywood’ Smile
It may surprise you to know that the colour of our natural teeth is not white. Human teeth fall on a colour scale that can be anywhere form shades of cream and yellow to brown or grey from the time we are born. While the whitening process will scrub off all the stains from your teeth, it will be returning them to their natural colour, not a dazzling white. In order to get the bight white smile, you need to go through the bleaching process. It’s the same as hair colours. Naturally people are born blonde, which is quite a yellow colour. The platinum blonde ‘white’ colour is always the result of bleaching, and never occurs naturally. This will chemically change the colour of your teeth, and result in a much whiter smile, but it’s important to remember that results do vary with everyone, so you might not get the whiteness you were looking for.
And there you have it. Tooth whitening is a very common procedure that is undergone by thousands of people every year to boost their confidence and self-esteem, or just to make them look and feel great on a special day. There are no harmful side effects, and it will bring you a more natural, healthy looking smile. There are hundreds more myths about tooth whitening that we could go into, but we’ll save them for another post!