With the popularity of social media applications like Facebook and Instagram on the rise, many of us find ourselves pressured to take the perfect photo before posting it for our friends to see. We want to look attractive, feel pretty or handsome and be complimented, but deep down inside many of us feel insecure about our smiles.
In particular, we are not confident about breaking into a full smile because of concerns that other people could see the imperfections, in particular the yellowish or black stains on our teeth. Personally, I have never smoked or drank excessively but i have never had teeth that people would consider to be white.
They were dull and yellowish and as a kid I remember i used to wonder all the time how celebrities, TV hosts and presenters had those amazingly perfect white teeth.
Being young and naive I even thought that by brushing my teeth more often and using more toothpaste each time, I would clean my teeth more thoroughly and over time I would get sparkly white teeth. Of course, that was wrong but after asking family and friends for advice and doing my own research (which included asking professional dentists), I realized that there were many myths and misconceptions on teeth whitening that people still believe in.
Let us address these issues below.
1. Just use a teeth whitening toothpaste, it is a cheaper option
I was guilty of spreading this advice too because whitening toothpastes were a much cheaper option than going to the dentist, but as i found out, whitening toothpastes are only able to remove surface stains, eg. stains from smoking, tea, coffee etc.
There are actually two kinds of tooth discolouration, internal and external. Whitening toothpastes use abrasive ingredients to remove the external stains but they do not change the internal discolouration of your teeth. To make things worse, constantly using abrasive whitening toothpastes can actually wear down the surface enamel of your teeth and cause them to be over sensitive.
2. I can’t whiten my teeth because I have sensitive teeth
Teeth sensitivity happens as a result of enamel that is worn out, where your inner teeth become exposed. If you opt for a laser whitening procedure, it is not uncommon to experience post operative sensitivity for up to 48 hours but fret not, the pain should go away in a few days. Alternatively, consider getting custom whitening trays to try on at home that will allow your teeth more time to adapt to the sensitivity and get similar results in a slightly longer period of time.
As usual, I would advise that you discuss with your dentists so that they can address your teeth sensitivity issues accordingly. There are also options of using a toothpaste like Sensodyne to relieve the sensitivity.
3. Teeth Whitening is dangerous
A common misconception among some people is the claim that teeth whitening utilizes lasers that will break down and peel off the outer layer of enamel. In reality, the “lasers” are actually just Ultraviolet Light (UV) or LED light that is used to accelerate the bleaching process. This is accomplished when the pores of the teeth are opened and a cleaning agent like hydrogen peroxide enters to clean the internal discolouration.
4. Beauty Salons are just as good for teeth whitening
Remember the above mentioned point about teeth whitening being dangerous? It is completely safe when carried out by a dental professional. The bleaching gel used might cause painful chemical burns to your gums and lips if the beautician is not trained or experienced. It is illegal in many countries for people to provide teeth whitening services in the absence of a dental professional. For instance, under the Dentists Act 1984 in the UK, it is actually illegal for non dental health professionals to participate in teeth whitening services for their customers. If you are willing to take the risk, just know of the potential dangers.
5. I just need to whiten my teeth once and it will be enough
Similar to the shock people receive when they are told by dentists that they need to wear their retainers for life even after braces, some of us think that teeth whitening is a treatment that will last a long time. (After all, it is not exactly cheap right?)
The truth is that the effects of professional whitening last from 2 to 3 years but will eventually fade off and will require maintenance and oral hygiene. Of course, if you are a regular smoker and coffee addict the results will fade off even quicker. That is why some dentists recommend maintaining good oral hygiene and revisiting them frequently for check ups.
This concludes my post about the 5 common misconceptions people have of teeth whitening. I hope that this has cleared some of your doubts regarding whitening your teeth, but always remember to always talk to your preferred dentist or dental professional first before you start any kind of treatment. If you like the post, feel free to comment and tell me what you think, are there any more misconceptions you know about?