Teeth Whitening Myths

Everybody wants a bright white smile… but what is the best way to achieve it? What is the difference between over the counter and professional whitening products? What route is best for me and my teeth?

We’re here to help you out.  We’ll set the record straight on some of the most common misunderstandings surrounding teeth whitening:

Myth: All teeth whiten the same

Fact: All teeth do NOT whiten the same. How white your teeth will get depends on what color they are to begin with and the source of the discoloration. Brown or yellow teeth (often the result of superficial staining caused by smoking, coffee, and tea) will usually get whiter. Gray teeth (often caused not by stains but by pigment deep inside the tooth) will lighten less, sometimes not at all.

There are many causes of tooth discoloration. The most common include genetics, aging, consumption of staining substances (smoking, coffee, tea, and colas), tetracycline (antibiotic) staining, excessive fluoride, and old fillings. Whitening toothpaste can remove stain that is on the outside of the teeth (extrinsic stain), however, whitening toothpaste and professional dental cleanings will not change the color (intrinsic stain) of the teeth.  That is why tooth whitening has become so popular

Myth: Once my teeth are whitened, they will stay white forever

Fact: Once you have achieved the look you desire, you will have to maintain your whitening results by periodically using whitening treatments at home as your teeth will naturally darken with age and staining from your diet.  Avoiding intensely colored beverages such as coffee, tea, wine, or orange juice can prolong the whitening results.

Myth: It may take weeks to see results

Fact: Though many products with milder whitening agents may take weeks to work, you can sometimes see dramatic results in less than an hour from whitening procedures done by your dentist in the dental office. Sometimes, people can experience eight or more shades brighter in less than an hour.

Myth: All teeth whitening products are the same

Fact: Although all whitening gels use derivatives of the same ingredients, there is a wide range of strength of whitening products. The strongest whitening results can be obtained by the dentist using in-office whitening procedures. The next strongest whitening regimens are given to you by your dentist to be used at home. Over-the-counter whitening products consist of lower concentrations of whitening agent and usually produce less dramatic results.

Myth: Veneers, crowns, and tooth colored fillings will be whitened just like my teeth

Fact: Whitening products will not change the color of veneers, crowns, and composite fillings.  In fact, you may be disappointed after whitening that your veneers, crowns, or fillings no longer match the color of your teeth.  If teeth whitening is planned, teeth should normally be whitened prior to completing any veneers, crowns, or fillings that will be visible.

Myth: Whitening toothpastes bleach teeth

Fact: Whitening toothpastes typically don’t contain any whitening agents.  Most of the whitening toothpastes contain only mechanical abrasive products that help you scrub off surface stains when brushing.

Myth: Dental insurance will pay for teeth whitening

Fact: Teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic procedure and is typically not covered by dental insurance plans.

Myth: Tooth whitening is without side effects

Fact: Although long term side effects are virtually nonexistent, whitening your teeth may cause transient tooth sensitivity or gum irritation. To combat this, the whitening products dispensed at Middletown Family Dentistry have an added desensitizing agent that minimizes bleaching sensitivity. Before you whiten your teeth, you should see your dentist to check for cavities, exposed roots, or gum disease to minimize problems during whitening.

Myth: Whitening agents dispensed by the dentist are the same as the ones purchased over the counter

Fact: Over the counter and professional whitening products mainly differ in two ways: the strength of the whitening product and how well the whitening tray fits your teeth. In order to have maximum effect on your teeth, the whitening product must equally cover your teeth. Because everybody has different sizes and shapes of teeth, it may be difficult for a generic stock tray to equally cover your teeth, especially if your teeth are crooked. The custom-made trays that are dispensed by your dentist hold the whitening product evenly on all your teeth.

Myth: I have to get the strongest gel so that my teeth can get whitest

Fact: Higher concentration whitening products will whiten your teeth quicker but an increase in sensitivity is also associated with higher concentrations.  Lower concentration products worn for a slightly longer duration will allow one to achieve maximum whitening effects with minimal sensitivity.

Are you looking for a bright, healthy smile?  We can help you get there! Feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation and find out what route is best for you.


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