From brushing your teeth too much to useless home hacks – 9 teeth whitening myths

A NEW teeth whitening product is on the market every five minutes.

If it's not a celeb-pushed kit, it's a "hack" going viral for being cheap and easy with miraculous results.

When it comes to getting a brighter smile, we are inundated with information.

People will try anything than won't cost them a small fortune to do professionally.

But when it could harm your health in the long run, or just be a complete waste of time, it's better to know the facts from fiction.

Dentists have spoken to the Sun to reveal the myths about teeth whitening.

1. Toothbrush settings won’t whiten teeth

Many electric toothbrushes have a setting that claims to make teeth whiter. 

Hussein and Hassan Dalghous, twin dentists and founders of Yorkshire Dental Suite, said: “Using the whitening mode on an electric toothbrush changes the speed the bristles are moving to provide more of a polishing action. 

“The action of the alternating-speed mode, which moves between high and low oscillations, helps buff away stains on the tooth surface.

“It's meant to be used as an extra clean on top of your regular toothbrushing, which is done with the everyday cleaning mode. However, using this mode won't necessarily whiten teeth, only professional tooth bleaching can do that.”

2. You don’t need to brush your teeth more than twice a day

Warnings about foods and drinks that stain teeth can make you extra wary, brushing your teeth after meals and drinks like coffee.

But the Dalghous twins said this is not necessary.

“After drinking tea and coffee, ensure you rinse really well with water straight after. You don't have to brush each and every time, you should not over brush especially if you drink a lot of tea and coffee,” they said.

“Instead, use a good toothpaste twice a day with an electric toothbrush (preferably an oscillating one) and floss. 

“This is a great combination and will help remove surface stains that accumulate over the day as well as keeping your teeth healthy.”

3. A dental clean will not make your teeth whiter

Everyone is advised to get a clean at the dentist around every six months.

The primary goal of teeth cleaning is to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth, so it’s no wonder people think it will make their smile brighter.

Although teeth cleaning will remove stains and build-up, and make your mouth feel cleaner, it won’t change the fundamental colour of your teeth, but can keep them the colour they already are.

The Dalghous twins said: “Seeing a good hygienist every three to six months keeps stains at bay and will help to keep your teeth white.” 

4. Teeth whitening can fade

Even after getting the top-end teeth whitening process, it won't necessarily stay forever, sometimes fading within a matter of months.

The Dalghous twins said: “You can expect great results from tooth whitening to last a couple of years if looked after well. 

“Your lifestyle can affect how long your results last, such as food and drinks with strong colours that can stain teeth or not brushing well enough, as well as habits such as smoking. 

“Seeing your hygienist regularly will help to remove the stains that cause your shade to drop and also top ups are advised every six months for one night. This will help to keep that tooth shade looking white.”

5. Not everyone can get teeth whitening

Your dentist wants what’s best for your teeth, and sometimes that might mean denying you whiter teeth.

“Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers can't bleach their teeth,” the Dalghous twins said.

“If you need any fillings or dental treatment, this should be addressed first. You have to legally be over 18 to have your teeth whitened and if you have inflamed or bleeding gums you will have to make sure they are healthier before starting.”

6. Home kits are not as effective and could be harmful

Even though tonnes of celebrities rave about them, home whitening kits, including strips, will not work as well as the real deal.

They can also be harmful, because unless a gum shield is personally fitted to your mouth, the bleaching ingredient can leak onto the gums and lips.

If that’s not enough to put you off, “strips erode the outer layer of the teeth making them more sensitive and susceptible to decay,” the Dalghous twins warned.

“In addition, many non-professional blue light products temporarily dehydrate the teeth which can cause damage and only offer minimal short term results.”

Legally, over the counter products can only contain a maximum amount of 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide – the stuff that makes your teeth white – while professional kits can have up to six per cent. 

Products bought online may not fit UK regulations, and have dangerously high levels of bleach in them.

7. Baking soda will not whiten your teeth 

Mixing baking soda with liquid hydrogen peroxide has been praised as a homemade whitening remedy on TikTok. 

“But if not used safely can cause permanent damage,” warned Dr Richard Marques, a dentist and founder of Dr Richard Clinics in London.

“A mildly abrasive substance, it is useful for removing surface stains and neutralising acids in the mouth. However, it can also erode enamel, weakening the structure of teeth and making them more susceptible to staining over time.”

The Dalghous twins said this “causes damage and can lead to pain and sensitivity”. 

8. Neither will oil pulling or charcoal 

Two “natural” approaches to teeth whitening – oil pulling and charcoal products – sadly don’t do much for teeth whitening.

Oil pulling is a method where you rinse an oil (most often coconut) around your mouth before spitting it out.

“However, despite glowing testimonials, there is little evidence that it has any brightening effect- although it shouldn’t be harmful either,” said Dr Richard.

He added there isn’t any evidence for charcoal-based products either, and “research has found that extensive use of activated charcoal can damage your enamel and irritate gums- so is best to be avoided”.

The Dalghous twins added: “The myth behind charcoal toothpaste is supposedly that as well as being abrasive, the activated charcoal can absorb stains.

“Making your teeth appear black and then rinsing them to reveal your teeth underneath will no doubt give you a temporary feeling of increased whiteness, but this may be nothing more than a temporary placebo.”

9. Coffee is not as bad as tea

Coffee is no doubt a drink to be limited when it comes to keeping the teeth gleaming. 

But contrary to popular belief, it is not the worst offender – tea is!

“Both contain tannins, which stain your teeth,” said Ellie Busby, a registered nutritionist at Vojo.

“There’s some good news for latte lovers though, because adding milk to your tea and coffee is thought to reduce this effect. 

“Coffee generally has a lower tannin content than tea. However, it alters the pH of your mouth, making your teeth more vulnerable to other stains.

“Tannins aren’t only found in breakfast tea, but also in green tea and many herbal teas.”

Ellie suggested redbush tea which is naturally caffeine and tannin-free and won't stain your teeth.

So what will whiten teeth?

Teeth whitening at the dentist is the most successful because the bleaching gel contains the highest level of hydrogen peroxide.

With a dentist, a gum shield will be moulded to your teeth. You then apply the bleaching gel to the shields and wear it on the teeth overnight, or for several hours in the day.

After roughly two to four weeks, depending on the shade desired, the teeth will be brighter.

It is not offered for free on the NHS except for medical reasons. Therefore it'll privately cost between £150 and £700 depending on the treatment offered by the dentist.

Unfortunately it is not a one-off procedure – it will need to be repeated to maintain the same level of brightness. But the fee is smaller for "top-ups".

Any dentist can whiten teeth as long as they're registered with the General Dental Council.

Having teeth whitened at a unqualified beauty salon can carry risks and they are breaking the law by using products as strong as that used by dentists.

Another popular technique, with the supervision of a professional, is laser whitening, or “power whitening”.

A bleaching product is painted onto teeth before a special light is shone on to the area to activate the product.

It takes just one hour, but is more costly – up to £1,500.

The Dalghous twins use Smile White, for example, with clients including Ben Mendy (Manchester City FC), Mary Bedford (Love Island) or Moise Keane (PSG FC).

You can also protect your teeth by quitting smoking, brushing and flossing daily, and choosing food and drink wisely.

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