Busting myths. Confirming facts. Highlighting stats.

Stats source: DentaVox, 20 Questions: Teeth Whitening | Base: 546 respondents, 04-28/10/2019

Modern dentistry has all it takes to help us achieve the pearly white smile of our dreams… But are we ready to trust its means?

It is indeed difficult to find a more controversial topic than teeth whitening within the oral care field. We explored the awareness of the most popular myths and facts on teeth whitening among 546 respondents with varied demographic characteristics.

Check out these and more interesting findings in the article below:


#1: White teeth are not necessarily healthy teeth:

Although 26% of respondents seem hesitant, 66% of all respondents believe that pearly white teeth are not always a sign of perfect oral health. And they are absolutely right!

Natural teeth color varies in lightness and it changes additionally as we age. On one hand, there are people with more yellow-ish teeth color who have perfectly healthy teeth. On the other hand, people with ideally white teeth should not underestimate routine check-ups – caries, infections and other dental problems don’t correlate with the color of teeth. 


#2: Teeth whitening and teeth cleaning are not the same:

A common misconception, that’s been more often busted lately, is that those two procedures are essentially the same. Awareness seems to be widely spread 82% of survey participants recognize the differences between teeth cleaning and teeth whitening. It’s interesting to note that confidence in this statement’s authenticity grows with the age of respondents. 


#3: Professional teeth whitening damages teeth:

Although the largest part of surveyed people – 32% – (strongly) disagree, there is a significant number of 40% who have no clear vision, and another 28% who (strongly) agree. 

The dispersion of answers confirms once again the lack of definitive knowledge on the topic. Modern techniques are typically considered safe, as long as you trust professionals or follow your dentist’s advice when using a home whitening kit. However, beware of unknown and not proven methods, especially for home use, so that you don’t risk damaging your teeth enamel and dentin.  


#4: You can whiten crowns, veneers, fillings:

A high percentage of people – 37% – believe that whitening dental restorations is possible when, in fact, it is not. Why?

Dental crowns, veneers, fillings, and all other restorations are made of inorganic material that doesn’t respond to whitening the way real teeth do. Therefore, if you plan on having any restoration work done, it’s better to first whiten your teeth and then adjust their shades to the new color of your teeth. 


#5: You should avoid whitening if you have sensitive teeth:

The majority of survey participants (58%) think people with sensitive teeth should not go for bleaching. 

No matter what treatment you undergo, there’s always a chance your gums will be sensitive to the chemicals used in teeth whitening, particularly if you already have sensitive teeth and more likely if you use home whitening kits. Professional teeth whitening, though, often includes applying desensitizing gel or even rubber gum guards to protect gums during the procedure


#6: Professional teeth whitening can be painless:

The largest part of respondents (57%) agree that teeth whitening shall not necessarily be painful. 

Professionals confirm and remind that slightly increased tooth sensitivity after the treatment is not uncommon but if any irritations such as stinging or burning occur, you should consult your dentist


#7: Teeth whitening is not recommended for children:

Here the voice of the crowd is definitive: 68% of survey participants think children should wait to have their teeth whitened. 

There are many causes for tooth discoloration in children, including poor oral hygiene and the use of certain medications. In general, dentists advise to delay tooth whitening on a child’s developing teeth. A pediatric dentist can offer a realistic timeline for treatment after a check-up.


#8: Whitening your teeth will make them look unnatural:

35% of respondents confirm the authenticity of this statement. It’s curious to note, though, that more women than men believe teeth whitening might not look unnatural after all. 

And ladies might as well be right. Professional teeth whitening is a progressive treatment which means that your dentist/ nurse can control the results. If you use home whitening kits, then you can still influence the effect by reducing the number of days you wear your trays e.g. Don’t forget that there is a finite level of whitening that can be achieved which differs for each person.  


#9: You can whiten your teeth at home:

Nowadays, there are countless options for at-home teeth whitening. From semi-professional kits with light, through toothpastes, gels, and trays, to natural products. The majority of surveyed people (55%) do believe that pearly white teeth can be achieved at home. 

And this is indeed true. However, if you play the dentist, please inform yourself about possible negative effects from using certain products. Strawberries e.g. might look completely safe but they are highly acidic and rubbing them on your teeth’s surface might harm your enamel. 


#10: Hydrogen peroxide is a safe DIY whitening solution:

The largest part of respondents hasn’t given any definitive answer to this statement. As many people are not familiar with hydrogen peroxide generally or confused by the controversial popular conceptions, these results are not surprising. 

When used in higher than the recommended concentration, hydrogen peroxide can create free radicals, causing tissue damage. That is why it’s highly advisable to only trust a professional with this solution – they can control the dosage and can estimate the risk and effect according to your own needs. 


#11: Active charcoal is the teeth whitening holy grail product:

One of the most actively promoted teeth whitening solution – active charcoal – seems to have positioned itself as an effective product among 37% of survey participants. 

We know all these wow-ing results posted on social media are tempting but there is not enough scientific gravitas to support whether or not charcoal is effective. Moreover, overuse of activated charcoal products can lead to tooth erosion. The American Dental Association recommends choosing toothpastes/ alternatives with a relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) level of 250 or less so try to choose activated charcoal products that meet these guidelines.


#12: Baking soda is safe to use for teeth whitening:

Whatever we have in our homes is considered safe by most people, it seems, as the largest percentage of respondents – 44% – believe Sodium hydrogen carbonate (baking soda) is a harmless teeth whitening solution. 

The reality: Baking soda is abrasive and, as any such product, it can cause damage on the enamel. 


#13: Mouthwash can whiten teeth:

There is a higher share of people who think mouthwash can whiten teeth, compared to the ones who don’t. 

It would be good right? Swish, swish, and your teeth are whiter than ever! Teeth whitening doesn’t, unfortunately, work this way. Even though it can have some whitening ingredients, mouthwash cannot stay in your mouth long enough to whiten teeth.  


#14: LED (or blue) light is safe for teeth:

Over 50% of all respondents cannot decide whether this statement is true or false, most likely due to lack of information on the topic. The people who confirm its authenticity are more, however. 

Takeaway: Light Emission Diode (LED) is approved by the FDA and should not be confused with UV light which is still not so thoroughly accepted for teeth whitening purposes.


#15: Rubbing fruit on your teeth can help to remove stains:

People seem undecided on this topic. One-third consider it a myth, about another one-third believe it’s true, and around 40% cannot classify the statement. 

Strawberries, lemons, orange or banana peels – the fruit world is so rich in supposedly teeth whitening products. But do they really help? “Not only will this not remove stains, but it will also seriously damage your teeth,” explains Dr. Rhona Eskander. “Fruit acids 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.”


#16: Professional and at-home whitening gel are equivalent:

With a minor difference to the rest, the largest share of survey participants think professional and at-home whitening gel are different. 

All teeth whitening gels have diverse dimensions of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide –  the main dynamic ingredient that whitens your teeth. Professional whitening gel will in general be more grounded than at-home whitening gel. 


#17: Temporary sensitivity after teeth whitening is normal:

The majority of respondents (59%) consider tooth sensitivity after whitening normal. But is it?

Well, yes. Regardless of the protections used, all teeth whitening procedures may cause some level of sensitivity. The sensitivity usually wears off after 24 hours, though, so nothing to worry about. 


#18: Teeth whitening is not forever:

It would be great, right? Too great to be true… And it seems that three-thirds of survey participants are aware of this fact. 

There is no such thing as permanent teeth whitening results. The results of professional bleaching are believed to last up to three years. However, this period varies depending on the person’s oral hygiene habits, food and drink consumption, smoking and many other factors. 


#19: Not all teeth whiten evenly after a whitening procedure:

Respondents predominantly believe that teeth whitening doesn’t have the same effect on all teeth. 

Sometimes the biting edges and the sides of the teeth whiten more quickly than the rest of the teeth because the enamel there is thinner and responds to whitening more quickly. Your dentist will be able to control this process. Sometimes you may also notice white spots occurring on some of your teeth when you undergo whitening treatment; these white spots have already been present and the procedure has just made them more visible. The contrast becomes less obvious, though, as the whitening progresses a few days after the treatment. 


#20: Whitening results are not the same for all people:

The largest share of people (70%) confirm this statement. 

It’s a fact that results differ from person to person due to the factors mentioned in #18. It’s best to have realistic expectations before undergoing any whitening treatment and your dentist is the best person to ask for estimations. 


Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?

Share in the comments below! You don’t feel like commenting?

While you are still on the topic, why don’t you: