Teeth whitening’s a hot topic right now. And the good news is that having a bright, white smile that even the Love Islanders would be proud of is no longer something only celebrities and rich people can dream of.
But with so many whitening products and treatments now available to us mere mortals, it can be hard to figure out what’s effective, and more importantly, what’s safe.
1) Teeth whitening will damage your enamel
Will your quest for pearly whites turn out to be bad news for your tooth enamel? In a nutshell, no. “Plenty of studies have proven that teeth whitening does not damage the enamel,” says Dr Rhona.
2) Rubbing fruit on your teeth can help to remove stains
Stawberries, lemons, even banana peels – we’ve heard of people reaching for the fruit bowl in an effort to get a shiny smile, but does it work? “No,” warns Dr Rhona. “Not only will this not remove stains, but it will also seriously damage your teeth. Fruit acids and acids in the other foods we eat and drink cause tooth enamel to wear away and teeth can become discoloured and yellow as a result. Brushing after a meal will help, but avoid doing so for 20 minutes after consuming acidic foods. Acid softens your enamel, and brushing too soon will only speed up tooth wear before the enamel has time to settle again.”
3) Once whitened, teeth will stay white forever
“Unfortunately not,” Dr Rhona says. “After your first treatment, the effects of good living will continue to show on your teeth – this includes drinking red wine, tea or coffee, and smoking, which can all cause staining.” But it’s not all bad news. “It is unlikely that the teeth will go back to their original colour,” Dr Rhona adds. “I would recommend topping up by having a whitening treatment every few months.” And where you can, try to drink those worst offending liquids through a straw – this will help the fronts of your teeth stay whiter for longer.”
4) Whitening will make your teeth look unnatural
We’re all secretly terrified of having a Ross from Friends moment. But can having a professional whitening treatment really leave you with scarily bright gnashers? “No – whitening is a progressive treatment,” says Dr Rhona. “If you’re using at-home whitening trays for example, the more days you use them, the whiter your teeth will become, so it’s in your control. If you’re happy after three days or so, you can stop there and don’t need to continue. There’s also a finite level of whitening which can be achieved, and this depends on what shade your teeth were when you started.”
5) Teeth whitening causes extreme sensitivity
On the whole, teeth whitening shouldn’t hurt, so if it’s stinging, burning or irritating your mouth in any other way, you should stop that particular treatment immediately. However, a little bit of sensitivity isn’t uncommon. “Teeth whitening can cause sensitivity, but this can be managed by using certain special formulas,” says Dr Rhona. “Make sure the whitening system they’re using is based on carbamide peroxide, as this will cause less sensitivity.
Soirce: Cosmopolitan, Author Robyn Munson and Dentist Dr Rhona Eskander