Photo Credit: LyndaSanchez

It's hardly a surprise that teeth whitening treatments are the number one requested cosmetic dental procedure in the U.S., but there's also at-home and natural remedies to consider. To help decide what's best for you, we've uncovered 5 myths about teeth whitening so you can be smart about those pearly whites.

Myth #1: Anyone can do it

Since the procedure is so common, you’d think that it’s as harmless as applying chapstick, right? That’s not the case for everyone though, so check the list below to make sure you DON’T fall under any of these categories if you’d like to whiten one day:

  • Under age 16—the pulp chamber, or the main nerve of the tooth, is enlarged until this age.
  • Pregnant or lactating women
  • Sensitive teeth or allergies—The chemical treatment could cause an unsightly and dangerous reaction.
  • People with fillings, crowns or other tooth restorations—The materials these are made of do not whiten, therefore will result in uneven whitening of your overall smile.
  • People with gum disease, cavities, worn enamel and exposed roots—The whitening solution will seep into any existing decay and cause serious sensitivity.

Myth #2: It’s painless

Anyone who has lisped through a week or so of strips on their teeth is also probably familiar with the discomfort that follows. This sensitivity is caused by the whitening agents that have opened up the inner dentin layer of the tooth, where the nerve is exposed to external temperatures.

Myth #3: It completely ruins enamel

According to a study by The Journal of American Dental Association, whitening products that contain the standard 10% carbamide or hydrogen peroxide showed little to no effect on the hardness or mineral content of a tooth’s enamel surface. However, consider those who highlight their hair and the effect of overusing bleach to the point where hair becomes damaged and breaks. The same “in moderation” mentality should be applied to your teeth.

Myth #4: Professional treatments at the dentist are more effective than store-bought treatments

Both professional and at-home treatments provide results, but for either it comes down to time and money. For a cheaper price, you can buy kits from the store knowing that it takes longer. If you want a one-treatment fix at the dentist, know that it will cost you substantially more. Many toothpastes also promote whitening effects, however any kind of mild abrasive can remove those surface stains. Sprinkling baking soda on your regular toothpaste or eating vegetables naturally reduces the plaque that sticks to and yellows teeth.

Myth #5: It’s permanent

Especially after whitening, your teeth can become more porous and therefore more susceptible to the absorption of surface stains. If you truly want to keep up the whiteness, you must also be willing to change lifestyles decisions as well, such as avoiding red wine, coffee, soft drinks and smoking.