Even before the Internet, people wanted to have pearly white smiles to match those of Hollywood celebrities, but now, in the age of Photoshop and Instagram culture, our obsession with perfectly white teeth is bigger than ever. And this doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, a gorgeous white smile highlights your best features, makes you look younger and more attractive, not to mention that it boosts your confidence and enhances your overall look.
If you want your teeth to be a few shades lighter, there are many professional solutions you can use, but first, make sure you don’t believe in these popular teeth whitening myths that do more harm than good:
#1. If I Brush My Teeth Often And Vigorously, My Teeth Will Get Whiter
One of the first mistakes people make when deciding they want to have whiter teeth is brushing multiples times a day and applying more pressure than usual in an effort to get rid of all the plaque build-up. However, dentists warn that being too overexcited about your brushing can do more harm than good. Brushing your teeth twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, is sufficient, and you shouldn’t brush too hard, because you might damage the thin top layer of your gums (toothbrush abrasion). If you feel that your teeth are dirty after a meal, flossing and rinsing your mouth with water or antibacterial mouthwash should do the trick. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after eating, because that could damage the tooth surface.
#2. White Teeth are Always Healthier
If we were to rate oral health based on the colour of the teeth alone, then yes, white teeth do appear healthier because they don’t have any stains or discolouration. However, whitening your teeth doesn’t mean that you will never suffer from oral health issues again. You will still need to see your dentist regularly for check-ups and have professional treatments from time to time. There are many people with slightly yellow teeth who have never had a cavity in their life, so the colour of your teeth doesn’t necessarily make your more or less healthy.
#3. I Should Use a Hard Toothbrush to Whiten my Teeth
In the same way that brushing your teeth too often and too vigorously can damage your gums, so can a hard toothbrush. In fact, dentists advise patients to avoid hard bristles altogether, because they can sensitise your gums and cause bleeding. Medium toothbrushes are generally recommended, although people with gum disease can go for a soft toothbrush.
#4. I Don’t Need to Have my Teeth Professionally Cleaned if I Brush my Teeth Correctly
Having a correct brushing technique is key in maintaining proper oral health. However, you may not always be able to get rid of stains just through brushing alone. When we eat, small food particles gather in the small spaces between our teeth, where we cannot reach no matter how thoroughly we brush. In time, this can lead to plaque build-up, which can’t be removed by the active substances in regular toothpaste and can lead to serious dental problems later on. This is where professional tooth cleaning comes in.
#5. Store-bought Whitening Kits are Just as Good as Professional Cleaning
The idea of getting a Hollywood-level smile from the comfort of your home definitely sounds tempting and, with so many celebrity-endorsed whitening strip ads on TV and on social media, it’s hard not to fall victim to marketing. However, at-home whitening kits aren’t always as effective as brands make them seem. Although the ingredients used in home whitening kits in the UK are safe, it’s the way you use them that can have harmful side effects. For example, if the tray doesn’t fit you perfectly, the whitening solution can spill out and damage your gums. The safest way to whiten your teeth at home is to ask your dentist for a personalised solution. For example, private clinics such as West House Dental offer kits made of custom trays and whitening gels that can be applied at home and give patients specific instructions on how to use them for effective results.
#6. Professional Cleaning is Harsh and Weakens the Teeth
Cosmetic dentistry has evolved a lot and professional teeth whitening is no longer uncomfortable for patients with sensitive teeth. Dentist-approved formulas are safe and gentle and, applied under professional supervision, they make your teeth brighter by several shades. Besides, if you have sensitive teeth, your dentist will adjust the sensitivity management formula so that you don’t experience any pain.
#7. When Whitening my Teeth, I Should go for the Lightest Shade
White teeth have always been highly coveted, but dentists say that, in recent years, patients ask for unnatural and often unrealistic shades of white. When a patient comes in asking for professional teeth whitening, dentists use the VITA Classical Shade Guide to show them their current shade and find out how much they should brighten the teeth. For the average patient, going two shades lighter is enough to obtain a healthy, natural white smile, but patients don’t always agree. Because celebrities have strikingly white teeth, people expect the same results, but this can look fake and overdone. In reality, your dentist may not even be able to whiten your teeth past a certain natural creamy shade, so it’s important to manage your expectations.
Last, but not least, remember that not even professional teeth whitening lasts forever. Certain foods and drinks, such as coffee, black tea, and blueberries, can stain your teeth, so you might need regular touch-ups to maintain the same results. Needless to say, proper oral hygiene is a must, and you should brush and floss according to your dentist’s instructions.