McMahon Family Dental Blog

Teeth Whitening: Busting Five Teeth Whitening Myths with Facts


Your smile is an important asset. Per the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) Whitening Survey regarding teeth whitening trends in the U.S., 99.7% of us consider a good smile a social asset, and a whopping 96% also said an excellent smile makes you more attractive to the opposite sex. [1]

What’s more, if you don’t have one, you could be in trouble at work. Per 74% of the AACD survey respondents, a bad smile can hurt your career.

​And what was the most common response for what made a bad smile? Discolored, yellow, or stained teeth made the top of the list. 

When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, teeth whitening is one of the most economical procedures to improve the appearance of your smile. However, some myths exist around teeth whitening, which hold some patients back from moving forward with the treatment. Here are few myths that we would like to bust with facts.

Myth #1: Whitened teeth look unnatural.

Overly-whitened teeth are fodder for jokes in movies and on sitcoms. However, whitened teeth rarely get unnaturally bright. In fact, per Web MD, teeth generally whiten only three to eight shades lighter from where they begin. In take home kits, you have control over [2] how white your teeth become. In other words, once you get the results you want, you stop using the product and your teeth will not whiten further. In office, your dentist will ensure that your teeth do not go too far into the weirdly white zone.

Myth #2: The teeth-whitening process damages enamel.

1 “Whitening Survey, Summer 2012.” Web. 12 June 2019.
2 “Teeth Whitening and Bleaching.” Web. 12 June 2019.

Teeth whiteners use hydrogen peroxide bleach to whiten teeth. However, contrary to popular belief, the bleach is not lightening the enamel, which is the outer hard tissue of the tooth, but the dentin, which is the inner tissue of the tooth just below the enamel. So, you [3] are changing what’s inside the tooth, which shows through the enamel to the outside. Therefore, the enamel is not damaged by the bleach; instead, the dentin underneath soaks it up.

Myth #3: Teeth whitening will cause permanent tooth sensitivity.

While it’s true that teeth tend to be sensitive right after a whitening treatment, the sensitivity is temporary and usually will go away after about a day or two. It is caused by 4 the peroxide bleach interacting with the dentin. However, if you follow the manufacturer’s [5] directions or have your dentist whiten your teeth in-office, you can minimize these effects. If you do have temporary sensitivity, often taking ibuprofen can help with the symptoms. Some professional products, like KOR whitening, control the temperature of their product from when it leaves the factory to its delivery to the practice to keep the hydrogen peroxide from becoming acidic and contributing to sensitivity. As a result, there is very little sensitivity for patients that undertake either an in-office or take-home treatment of KOR Whitening.

Myth #4: Teeth whitening is a one-and-done process.

As much as we would all like to have a magic treatment that automatically counteracted the gradual discoloration of our teeth for all eternity, no such product exists. So, how long can you expect the results to last? Experts estimate the effects last as little as six months and all the way to three years. How long the effects last has a lot to do with age, heredity, lifestyle, and diet. [6] 

3 Burhenne, DDS, Mark. “Teeth Whitening: What to Know Before You Go.” 3 June 2019. Web. 12 June 2019.
4 Dodge, Lora. “10 Strategies to Cope With Teeth Whitening Sensitivity.” 14 May 2019. Web. 12 June 2019.
5 Watson, Shawn. “Possible Side Effects of Tooth Whitening.” 13 November 2018. Web. 12 June 2019.  

Myth #5: At-home whitening kits are not as successful as in-office whitening kits.

There are pros and cons of each type of whitening system. Both types of whitening systems can provide excellent results, and both types have their drawbacks. However, whitening is not a good idea for patients that are suffering from poor or suboptimal oral health, and can cause further complications and problems. Your dentist knows your oral health situation and would not send home an at-home kit to a patient at risk of complications. The same cannot be said of the clerk at the drugstore when you buy an over-the-counter version.

Our top choice for take-home and in-office whitening is the KOR Whitening System. We especially appreciate their focus on the science of whitening, and how their products can best supplement the natural environment in which it works.


KOR In-Office Whitening: $399
KOR Take-Home Whitening: $199

Your smile is an important asset. Having a whiter smile is one way you can improve your smile with cosmetic dentistry affordably, and with excellent results. Don’t miss out on all these great benefits because you believed the myths. Arm yourself with facts and brighten your smile with teeth whitening.

​​6 “Tooth Whitening.” Web. 12 June 2019.

See what the team at McMahon Family Dental can do for you.

Since 1995, McMahon Family Dental provides innovative and superior dental care in a friendly, comfortable environment. For more information, call us at 616.457.2710 or contact us today.