Five Myths About DIY Teeth Whitening

Five Myths About DIY Teeth Whitening

If there is one thing we as a society are good at, it’s doing things for ourselves. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at all the DIY videos and television shows out there. If there’s a product or service on the market today, I can just about guarantee there’s some enterprising soul making a video about how you can do it yourself and save money. Maybe even do it better than the original! Sounds good, doesn’t it? It does to me, too. However, there is one area I can tell you that just about never works out in the do-it-yourself department. And that’s DIY teeth whitening.

What we’re talking about here are the myths that surround at-home teeth whitening gimmicks. It’s big business, right? Look at any ad or television show, and you’ll see models and actors with bright beautiful smiles. Everyone wants one of those . . . it’s natural. Not everyone has one or figures they can go to the dentist and have their teeth whitened, so, they turn to the myriad at-home DIY solutions.

There are a lot more myths out there than I’m going to cover today in the short time we have together, but I want to touch on the top five, at least in my humble opinion. You may have tried some of these in the past… and maybe you’ve even had some success, though perhaps just temporary. Please, even if that is the case, hear me out. Your dental health is important to me, and I hope it’s important to you as well.

Myth #1: You should use stronger DIY teeth-whitening agents if you want to reduce treatment time.

Fact: Many teeth-bleaching products contain peroxide. You’ll find it right on the label. Now, peroxide is useful for a lot of things… but whitening your teeth is not one of them. There are a couple of reasons for this. Higher concentrations can cause sensitive teeth. And if you’ve ever dealt with sensitive teeth, you know how nasty that can be. It’s no fun to be stuck with drinking only tepid beverages because your teeth won’t tolerate anything else.

Not only that, but it’s also a fact that individual teeth respond to bleaching at different rates. That means that some of your teeth may be whiter than others. Uneven whitening might not really be the look you’re going for, so that’s why stronger does not equal faster and better in the whitening game.

Myth #2: Whitening toothpaste is effective.

Fact: The idea of whitening your teeth sells. This is not lost on toothpaste manufacturers. There is no denying that whitening toothpaste could provide some minimal benefit over time. However, it does more to keep your teeth white than it does to whiten already stained teeth. A few minutes contact at a time is just not going to fit the bill when it comes to truly effective whitening. Always use a product recommended by the ADA. You can find these by looking for the ADA seal on the package label. Some good ones include products made by Colgate, Crest, Aim and other regional brands such as Tom’s. There are also products that are specifically made for those with sensitive teeth and pediatric or senior consumers.

Myth #3: Hydrogen peroxide or baking soda is a safe DIY teeth whitening solution.

Fact: Neither hydrogen peroxide nor baking soda makes for a good DIY teeth whitening treatment. Toothpaste with baking soda is fine if you should choose to brush with it. But again, the baking soda won’t do much for whitening. Nor will leaving the baking soda on your teeth for extended periods of time, which could disrupt the balance of good to bad bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to a variety of oral health problems.

And hydrogen peroxide? Well, that can create free radicals, which can damage your gums and other tissues in your mouth if used at teeth-whitening proportions for a long time. (A little in a well-formulated toothpaste is fine).

Myth #4: Children can have their teeth whitened, too.

Fact: Children can have stained or discolored teeth, just like adults can, though usually for different reasons. Usually, it’s not because of coffee, and it should definitely not be because of smoke or chewing tobacco!
There are many different reasons for teeth-staining during childhood. Poor oral hygiene and lack of proper dental care are certainly causes, but one of the main culprits is medication-related. Some types of antibiotics commonly used by children (and adults) can cause yellowing or spotting of the teeth.

The process of tooth whitening may have a negative impact on a child’s developing teeth, so it’s not a good idea for a child to have their teeth whitened—whether DIY at home or even at the general dentist’s office. It’s a much better idea to contact a pediatric dentist, who can discuss treatment options and a sensible timeline with you and your child.

Myth #5: Professional tooth whitening is unaffordable.

Fact: It’s true that professional teeth whitening is likely going to be more expensive at the outset than a DIY kit you can pick up at the store, or a solution you mix up yourself at home. But in the long run, the procedure is a lot more affordable than you might think.

On top of that, you won’t be running the risk of damaging your teeth or coming out with results that make your situation worse. And you’ll feel more comfortable, too. The whitening process can cause temporary tooth sensitivity in some cases, so a dentist may administer gels to prevent that sensitivity during treatment.

There are ways you can whiten your teeth at home. Some of them are more effective than others. I hope the information I have covered here will help you reach a decision as to which method will work best for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office.


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