Common Myths of Teeth Whitening

By Carol Waldman June 23, 2015

By: Irene Iancu BSc, RDH

Given our June release of our Zoom® tooth whitening promotion, we felt it was necessary to address some common misconceptions associated with teeth whitening procedures that are available to consumers on the market and within your dental office.

bleaching teeth treatmentAlmost all of us want white teeth!

When we watch toothpaste commercials, we can’t help but hope, pray and desire to have the incredible white smiles the actors have.

So what do we do? We buy the toothpastes!

We brush every day, 2-3 times a day like the tube says and then we wait… and wait… and wait, crossing our fingers that in 4-6 weeks out teeth will be as white as a sheet of crisp paper. Then reality kicks in. Nothing really happened.

As an alternative we may choose commercial tooth whitening mouth rinses. These products actually contain a strong peroxide which can dry out our tissue causing out mouths to feel pasty. Used along with the constant abrasive whitening toothpastes, we can often find that these treatment have dulled the restorations (fillings) in our mouth and in some cases made our teeth sensitive.

To help you avoid experiencing the above scenario, we have decided to provide you with this little informational blog. It is our hope that with this information, you will be empowered to make the right decision about how to best achieve your goal of “whiter, brighter, teeth”.

In our office, we offer 3 different of whitening systems to best suit the needs and teeth of our patients. To help you in selecting the procedure best suited to meet your needs, the following may be helpful.

Myth #1- Teeth whitening doesn’t have side effects

Generally speaking teeth whitening IS SAFE! Although some patients experience temporary sensitivity it rarely lasts more than 24 hours and can completely be managed with over the counter anti-inflammatory medications advised by your dentist.

To minimize these effects consult with your dentist or dental hygienist prior to treatments and have an assessment to figure out which treatment is best suited for you, your teeth and your overall well being.

Myth #2- All teeth whitening products are the same

FALSE- not all products are the same. While most products will eventually produce a whiter smile, there is a large difference in the time required to achieve these results and in the side effects that can result. There are several different chemical compositions found in commercial whitening systems. These materials in the products control the strength, efficacy and length of treatment time. In addition, there are large differences between the products that are purchased over the counter versus those administered by a licensed professional.

Myth #3- Teeth whitening is a one-time procedure

Generally, people believe that when we whiten our teeth with an in office procedure, that the results are permanent. However, that is not the case. In fact it is more akin to going on a diet to achieving our desired results. But if we revert to the old behaviour patterns, we gain weight, or in the case of tooth whitening, our teeth can get darker again. Once we achieve that 6-7 shade jump we have to try our best to keep it that way. Often whitening procedures include a touch up system to maintain those pearly whites. Your Dentist or Hygienist can better give you an easy regiment to maintain your desired result.

Myth #4- Everyone will whiten the same

We all come from different walks of life. We eat different things, we have different habits and of course our teeth are all different shapes, sizes and colors. Consulting your professional to assess your whitening potential based on your tooth color is strongly advised. Some of us have had antibiotics in our childhood. These can change the internal color of our teeth. This is referred to as intrinsic discolouration. Others have surface staining of their teeth, from coffee, tea or other numerous foods. Smoking can cause both extrinsic and intrinsic staining. Generally speaking intrinsic staining is more difficult to treat.

Just as our needs are different, so too are many products that are tailored JUST FOR YOU!

Woman smile. Teeth whitening. Dental care.Myth #5- Whitening toothpastes can bleach teeth

Sadly this is not true. Teeth have pores just like our skin. Once certain chemicals such as acidic foods contacts our teeth those pores open up and start to absorb microscopic pieces of the staining material. Treating discoloured teeth with intense exposure to whitening agents will help to whiten our teeth from inside out and breakdown those microscopic staining materials.

Toothpastes use external whitening methods to assist us in removing the surface stains that make our teeth look darker from external factors such as coffee, tea or red wine. Often they only have 0.01% peroxide to assist in intrinsic stain removal but mostly rely on abrasives to help remove surface extrinsic stain.

Myth # 6 Oral Cancer

While it is true that the process of bleaching creates free radicals, and free radicals have been associated with possible cancer risk, tooth whitening has been shown to be one of the safest procedures used in dentistry. In addition, while tooth whitening is one of the most studies procedures, not a single study has shown a direct relationship with an increased risk of cancer. Remember, especially in the dental office when your teeth are completely isolated, no bleaching solution is consumed by the patient. Therefore any free radicals are quickly rinsed aware and taken away by the dental suction device found in all dental offices.

Myth #7 Damage to my nerves

Another rumour that is common for a cosmetic dentist to hear is that having professional teeth whitening done can damage the nerves or pulp in the teeth. If the chemicals are not used correctly, they definitely could cause some sensitivity. There are, however, regulations in place which ensure that the amount of chemicals used are mild enough to cause no permanent damage to the teeth, which is why it is important to have the appropriate treatment for your specific type of needs. However, rest assured the nerves in your teeth will not experience anything more than mild sensitivity for at the most a couple of days.

It is our hope that this myth busting will help you feel confident to contact your dentist to help you achieve the beautiful whiter and brighter smile that you have always wanted.

Stay tuned for more useful information and see you next week.