Top 9 Teeth Whitening Myths Debunked

There is a lot of misinformation about there about whitening teeth, especially on the web. Avoiding these common misconceptions can save you money and damage to your teeth.

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whitening myths

Are there things you absolutely don’t want to do to whiten your teeth? There is a lot of misinformation out there about whitening teeth, especially on the web (don’t even get me started on the Soccer Mom teeth whitening scam). Here are the top nine whitening myths that I find in my practice.

You Can Whiten Your Teeth With Baking Soda

This simply doesn’t work and will disrupt the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your mouth.

You Can Whiten Your Teeth Rinsing With Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide, when it comes into contact with the tissues, causes free radical reactions. These are the same reactions that age living tissue.

You Can Use Whitening Toothpaste and Whitening Gum

While these “whitening” toothpaste and chewing gums may have whitening chemicals in them, they are far too weak to have an effect. Whitening chemicals need to be in contact with the teeth for a minimum of 20 minutes in order to effect a color change.

Professional Whitening Gel and At-Home Whitening Gel Are the Same

All teeth whitening gels have different levels of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, the active ingredient that whitens your teeth. Professional whitening gel tends to be stronger than at-home whitening gel. Which leads me to myth #5…

The Strongest Whitening Gel Is the Best

While a stronger whitening gel may speed up the process, the whitening effect may not last as long. It is also more likely to cause pain and sensitivity.

Bottom line: You can achieve the same results with lower concentrations of whitening gel, plus it is safer and your teeth stay whiter longer.

Once Whitened, Teeth Will Stay White Forever

The color change is permanent, however, the aging process continues, which means your teeth continue to yellow. Touch-ups are needed to maintain the whitening.

This is one of the reasons the custom whitening tray method is best.

Strawberries and Lemons Can Be Used to Whiten Teeth

True, but at a cost. The way it works is the acids eat away at your teeth enamel. In the end, you can do permanent damage to your teeth if you take this route to whitening your teeth.

UV Light Can Speed Up the Whitening Process

There is no proof that a UV light used by a dentist (during in-office whitening) speeds up the process of whitening or does a better job at whitening your teeth. In fact, it may harm the tooth and can damage your eyes, lips, and gums with UV rays.

Crowns and Veneers Can Be Whitened

The whitening gels we use to whiten teeth only work on natural teeth and have no effect on porcelain surfaces, so you need to replace your crowns if you want them to match your other teeth.

Whitening Can Be Done At All Ages

Whitening children’s teeth can damage the live tissue inside the teeth. Only in some cases can children’s teeth be whitened safely.

Don’t become a victim of these common misconceptions about teeth whitening. Your smile is often the first thing people notice about you, so do your research before doing anything to your teeth and always consult your dentist first.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Read Next: The Only All-Natural Teeth Whitening Methods I Recommend

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  1. I’ve tried to whiten my teeth in the past, and I’ve always noticed that the edges of my teeth (along the gums) whiten less than the rest of my teeth, probably because they are partially blocked by my gums. Is there anything I can do to focus on whitening that area?

    • David,
      There’s not much you can do except make sure that your tray design is perfect and holds the gel right to the gum line without touching the gum. What you are seeing is normal, as the tooth has three zones of enamel and dentin thickness.

      The biting surface is always whiter since it’s almost purely enamel. The middle third is a mix of enamel and dentin (yellower than enamel). The bottom third, the part that you refer to, is more dentin than enamel (the enamel is thinning out as it reaches the root of the tooth).

      During the whitening process, these three zones are more markedly demarcated than when not whitening. The contrast between the zones will blend together after 2 weeks following the whitening.

      Teeth would actually look pretty silly if they were completely monochromatic (the actual word we use to describe false looking crowns or veneers). Natural teeth have depth and variation in color.

      Just make sure the edges of the tray are perfectly contoured to fit your teeth. I’ve found that Invisalign aligners do the best job of accomplishing this. Of course, it’s an expensive way to whiten your teeth, but if you already have them, they’re even better than custom whitening trays.

      Good luck with your teeth whitening!

      Mark Burhenne DDS

      • You should get on mailing list so you can be informed of haengpinps. Then you won’t miss out on the chio bus. Maybe they’ll also want to take pictures with you!

  2. b”H”i

    so, dr. , at ‘the end of the day’ — what is the best, safest, most effective way of whitening teeth and keeping them white?

  3. Dr Paresh says:

    This is one of the most genuine article giving knowledge about teeth whitening facts. Thanks Dr. B
    My suggestions are same, discuss with your dentist and make an correct expectation with teeth whitening. Remember its a cosmetic procedure and it requires touch ups regularly.

  4. Dr. B,
    I’ve always had slighty extra sensitive teeth, but am considering getting the Crest 3D whitening strips, toothbrush, toothpaste, and rinse/mouthwash…so basically the whole package. Is this dangerous, especially since i’ve never used any of these products before and now to use them all at once? Will my teeth become even more sensitive?

  5. *Update*

    I know that gum damage is possible from over-use, but I have been diluting my 3% (Won’t work as fast or be as effective, but patience is a virtue…)

    I polish the H202 onto my teeth only now, so there is only minimal contact of the H202 with my gums. The occasional rinse is to help with bad breath and especially gum swelling, which once it is lessened even more, I will cease usage and rely on brushing, using mouthwash and flossing to keep them from swelling again.

  6. What about Whitening strips?

  7. Robert McElhnny says:

    When you say H202 comes in contact with tissue it, when used as a mouthwash, it creates free radicals to attack it causing ageing to the tissue this, being the same radical reactions caused to living tissue. You used your evidence to back your claim, would I not be using it on living tissue, ? If I used it as a mouth wash/tooth whitener at a 1:5% infrequently 1-2x per month would this be harmful? H202 occurs in the body, how does this effect the body? As I want to use a natural product what could be appropriate as I known fluoride is not man a made by product, but industrial waste from several poluting idustries. Bicarbonate soda which you’ve critiqued negatively, yet we eat loaves of it and bake cup cakes with, it is also a natural occurring salt. Fluoride cause fluorosis and is linked to early dementia. I just look forward to when it is linked to the ever increasing children being born with a neurological condition, like as previously mentioned and comditions such as ASD with 5% annual growth ie from 1:100 to 5:100 in a decade. You wouldn’t just put straight Flouride in your mouth would you?

  8. teeth whitening says:

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  12. Jasper vucivic says:

    Hello Dr.Mark Burhenne/Readers I was wondering if you’ve heard of the product smile brilliant custom made trays that use 22% carbamide peroxide.I’ skeptical of its safety and effectiveness.

    • 22% is quite strong, however, that is the standard ingredient in these whitening gels. I’d prefer a lower strength because there will be less sensitivity, but I think in general, I haven’t seen much variation between different formulations of carbamide peroxide — it all seems to be about the same quality at the given strength. Check where it’s manufactured — if it’s US or EU, you should be fine.

  13. “whitening gels we use to whiten teeth only work on natural teeth and have no effect on porcelain surfaces”

    I understand that whitening gels won’t make a crown whiter than it was at first when it was created. But will the crown become whiter if it became less white than when created, because of stains?

  14. The same as usual. Be my patient, do not do anything by yourself because you will hurt yourself. This is so untrue. Also some points In this article are so wrong. Like the one with baking soda. It does not work. Yeah right!!! You need to do another research on this. Do not read books. Find people who successfully whiten the teeth with baking soda. This debate nuking article has just been debunked. This is not even funny anymore.

    • Baking soda is not used for the purpose of whitening. It is used because it is abrasive and scrubs the surface very well before applying other treatments.

  15. I have a child who had a root canal and her tooth is darker then the rest
    And to bleach it is too expensive but I want her tooth the right color.
    What do you suggest?

    • When you have a root canal the tooth becomes discolored because it us technically dead. It will also become brittle. Assuming this is a permanent tooth it will need a crown. No amout of bleaching will whiten it and if not covered by a crown it will eventually break.

  16. Even though there were good reviews for pearl drops and iwhite, i’m cynical about such reviews online being totally impartial, that’s not to say they don’t produce good products, even though some are pricey. as i don’t believe sites that review them are totally impartial.
    So i did my own research, there are 100s so couldn’t decide. However a friend recently told me about a home whitening kit because she had good results. I had to search for it online as it’s usually only given as part of an after care solution once you’ve has laser teeth whitening, but they now sell them separately.
    It’s called White Guard home teeth whitening kit, it’s non peroxide so claims it won’t damage teeth. It worked really well for me, but that’s no guarantee it will for you. And no i’m not being paid/sponsored, i’m just a regular girl who has no affiliation to any supplier of products.
    I’m just cynical about independent reviews as the same mags and publications trot out the same brands pushing the same products day after day, do they think we are stupid or sheep. If you’ve found a product via your own research and testing that turns out to be really good, do same as me and add to comments section for such products so that real women like me and you aren’t being sold the usual suspects and get to try other good products. Don’t be like sheep and just follow the crowd it’s 2017 BFN. 🙂

  17. I’ve tried everything…inexpensive: Crest, Brandt, baking soda, peroxide, Zoom, at-home product purchased from a dentist. Nothing has worked. I don’t consume coffee, blueberries, etc.
    My teeth are yellow and sensitive, so I’ve had the pain without the white results.

    This article is factual.

  18. Great article, thank you !

  19. We checked in with dental professionals to find out whether activated charcoal is a safe and effective way to whiten your teeth—or if it will just leave your mouth full of dust.

    • Activated charcoal can effectively remove stains on teeth if used properly and will make it seem that the teeth have lightened. No intrinsic color lightening though. But still, easy and safe to keep your teeth looking good. DrB

  20. Is activated charcoal not a good option? I have really yellow teeth and am desparate for whiter ones. Could you then give solutions after having told the preventions/things we shouldn’t do?

  21. Braden Bills says:

    I want to make sure that my teeth look nice. It makes sense that I would want to get a professional to whiten my teeth for me! It doesn’t seem like whitening toothpaste and gum doesn’t actually work that well.

  22. Hazel Owens says:

    That’s interesting that if you use lemons or strawberries to whiten your teeth that the acid eats your enamel and can cause permanent damage to your teeth, so it’s best to have it professionally done. My son was telling me that he wants his teeth whitened since he feels that his teeth are too yellow. I’ll have to look where we can have the procedure done for him and maybe get it for him as a graduation present later this school year.

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