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Stained or discolored teeth are a potentially embarrassing problem that can sap your confidence and negatively impact your life.

Professional dental whitening is effective and safe, but also costs more. Because of this, many alternative treatments have emerged, often promising exceptional whitening results for a fraction of the cost.

Our advice: Take these with a grain of salt. At best, these claims could waste your time and money, and at worst, they could risk your underlying dental health. Here are five common teeth whitening myths you ought to ignore…

Myth #1: Whiten Using Common Household Substances

From baking soda to charcoal, many common household items are touted as DIY whitening solutions. Mostly, using these ingredients are a waste of time, but there is also the real risk of harming the sensitive tissues of your gums, tongue and cheeks. Think very carefully before putting any unfamiliar substances in your mouth, whatever claims you’ve read online.

Myth # 2: Acidic Foods Can Whiten

It’s often thought that common acidic foods such as strawberries, apples, celery carrots, oranges and pineapples will whiten teeth. This is true to some extent, but the amount needed to have any effect can do real damage to your teeth. The acids do their whitening work by stripping the enamel surfaces which, if done in an uncontrolled manner, can severely weaken them, encouraging cavities, chipping, and other problems.

Myth #3: Home Whitening Gels Are Just As Effective As The Ones They Use At The Dentist

Professional whitening gels are carefully formulated and controlled, and the dentist knows exactly how to use them safely and effectively. While over-the-counter whitening kits are often effective, you can’t always rely on the strength and safety of the chemicals they contain – they could achieve nothing at all or they could cause some damage. This is especially true for kits bought online, which are often manufactured overseas with little quality control or safety monitoring.

Myth #4: Toothpastes, Mouthwashes and Chewing Gums Work Brilliantly

Although specialist toothpastes, mouthwashes and chewing gums contain small amounts of whitening agents, they’re not going to work any miracles. Effective bleaching agents are simply too dangerous for unsupervised use, and therefore with most home whitening products, the active ingredients are so diluted in strength as to be more or less useless. These products may be suitable for maintaining an already-white smile, but not for creating a new one.

Myth #5: Whitening Is A One-Time Deal

There’s a reason your teeth became discolored, and even the most effective whitening treatment isn’t going to last forever. If you don’t fix the underlying causes, such as smoking or overindulging in certain foods and drinks, your teeth will inevitably become stained once more. Your dentist will be able to advise you on the likely causes of discoloration.

The Bottom Line on Teeth Whitening

If your teeth are stained and yellowing, it’s perfectly natural to wish for a solution. However, this is a situation where listening to the experts will most likely offer the best one.

Professional dental whitening treatment is effective and safe, and while it may cost a little more, you can rely on the results without risking the health of your pearly whites (or soon to be).

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