Facts + Myths about Teeth Whitening You Should Know

By Sasha Curry

We live in a culture that takes great pride in a pearly white smile. 

The human body and all of its functions are fascinating; however, with so much information at our disposal, making the right decision about a product or a service can be stressful. And our teeth are no exception.

In most cases, the natural color of teeth ranges anywhere in natural colour from a light greyish to yellow shade. As we age, our teeth naturally darken. Additionally, smoking and consuming certain foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, and red wine, can all have an impact on the overall shade of our teeth. 

Experts agree: our teeth are not naturally meant to be completely white. That being said, many people still want a brighter smile. As a result, dental experts have answered this call by creating a wide range of whitening options available to consumers. 

These options can be separated into two distinct categories: surface whiteners and bleaches

Before moving forward, it should be noted that claims related to tooth whitening are seen as cosmetic in nature by the American Dental Association.  

Types of Tooth Whitening

Surface Whitening/Bleaches

  • Surface whiteners use special abrasives, which, when combined with other components of the product, help to remove surface stains. These products generally consist of either toothpaste or chewing gums. 

Because these abrasives are typically finer than most regular toothpaste, tooth wear and tear as a result of overuse, is unlikely. 

The good news is, there is little known misuse of these products. 

It should be noted though, that the effectiveness of these products when it comes to having the smile you’ve always wanted, is limited to surface stains. As such, they should not be considered a substitute for professional cleaning.  

  • Most bleaching products are peroxide-based. Bleaches as an option for tooth whitening have proven to be an effective way of actually altering the colors of the tooth itself; however, not all teeth respond to this method the same way. For example, if you’ve had fillings, root canals, crowns, and/or extremely dark stains on your anterior teeth, typical bleaching options may not produce the results you want.

When looking into bleach-based options for tooth whitening, your dentist will use one of these two methods to whiten/brighten your teeth:

  • Vital Bleaching is performed on living teeth. These are teeth that have neither been replaced nor had work on them such as a root canal. This process will help whiten teeth stained by food or tobacco, as well as teeth that have become darker with age. 
  • Non-Vital Bleaching is a similar process for whitening done on teeth that are no longer alive. These teeth that have changed color as a result of procedures such as a root canal. 

Now that we have covered some of the basics of tooth whitening, let’s explore some of the facts and myths about achieving/maintaining your oral health. 

Common Tooth Whitening Myths

  1. Professional Tooth Whitening Isn’t Worth The Cost

Having your teeth whitened professionally and using a kit purchased at your local drugstore will result in two very different experiences. While using a store-bought product may be the cheaper option, many people are pleasantly surprised that professional tooth whitening is quite affordable. Not to mention, the final results of many store-bought products often fall short of what can be achieved when working with a dental expert. We recommend GLO whitening. This is our #1 recommended product for professional whitening.

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2. Whitening Toothpaste is Effective

Whitening toothpaste may not wear enamel significantly, but it will wear dentin or root surfaces. Not all, but some whitening toothpastes are highly abrasive and we caution our patients who use whitening toothpastes. Not to mention many of them make claims about whitening that simply cannot be achieved (and often come with a much higher price tag compared to other toothpastes). 

The answer? 

Yes, these toothpastes will still clean your teeth; however, don’t expect them to produce the same results when it comes to achieving professional grade tooth whitening. 

The chemicals in tooth whitening toothpaste that are meant to brighten your smile need to be in contact with the tooth for an extended period of time. Most of us take no longer than a matter of minutes to brush our teeth. As such, altering the shade of your teeth using these products really just isn’t worth it. 

Tooth Whitening Facts

  1. Implants/Crowns Can’t be Whitened

While it stands true that restorative materials cannot be whitened (porcelain veneers, crowns, or implants), we do recommend whitening prior to treating teeth in the esthetic area. Once these materials are finalized, their color cannot be changed. If a patient ever thinks they will whiten, they should do so before beginning treatment so we can match those materials to their new and improved tooth color.

  1. Professional Teeth Whitening is Cheaper Than Ever

Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in the last few decades, making for more affordable options to finally get the smile you’ve always wanted. What was once an expensive and sometimes unreliable procedure is now more affordable and effective than ever. 

Our staff at M Street Dental would love to help you achieve the tooth whitening results you’re after. We offer a variety of services ranging from teeth whitening to veneers and addressing complications such as sleep apnea. 

Book an appointment with one of our experts to get the results you’ve always wanted.

M Street Dental and our staff are committed to offering high caliber education, the best in practice dental services, and a place to call your home when it comes to achieving all of your smile related dreams. 

We believe, when you look good, you feel good. Get in touch and book your appointment with us today.

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