Teeth Whitening Myths – Fact or Fiction?

Teeth Whitening Before After

If your teeth have started to yellow, you might have found yourself considering desperate measures to whiten your teeth.

Be careful of false hype and dubious product claims, and remember that certain products can actually be harmful to your teeth.

This article will attempt to dispel many of the myths about teeth whitening and offer a realistic expectation of what level of teeth whitening you can achieve using both at-home and in-office whitening methods.

Myth 1: Everyone Can Have Pearly White Teeth Naturally


We are sorry to say this, but genetics do play a large role in how white your teeth can and will get.  That doesn’t mean you cannot brighten them up with professional whitening or bleaching treatments, just don’t be shocked if you aren’t able to get your teeth as white as someone else’s.

As you may have read, people with red hair often have a thinner ectoderm layer.  This exposes the dentin and can make the teeth appear more yellow or gray than people with other hair colorings.  

On the other side of the coin, some people have naturally whiter teeth that are easier to keep bright in just the same way that some people are taller than others, its just genetic luck.

Myth 2: The Harder You Brush The Better


Brushing your teeth too hard, and especially applying hard pressure with electronic toothbrushes can scrape your enamel.  That’s a sure way to ruin your teeth. Tooth enamel is important because if it is healthy, your teeth will look whiter and be protected.

Myth 3: Whitening Toothpaste is 100% Safe


Use caution with whitening toothpaste that contains crystals.  Sometimes they can be too tough on the tooth enamel as they are abrasive.

In fact, many whitening kinds of toothpaste can be damaging if you use them too often. 

Whitening toothpaste often contain silica-like substances in addition to peroxide.  

Many dentists are concerned that, over time, these products may eat away at the enamel which actually has the opposite effect of whitening so is something to be avoided.

So we recommend alternating between whitening and non-whitening toothpastes.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening products are still relatively new (15-20 years).  So we don’t really know the long-term effects of using these products day after day for extended periods. 

The FDA rates the abrasiveness of toothpaste by measuring the RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasivity).  They recommend using toothpaste with an RDA below 200.

RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasivity)

Dentin Abrasivity teeth Whitening
  • 0-70 is considered low abrasive
  • 71-100 is considered medium abrasive
  • 101-150 is highly abrasive
  • 151-250 can be considered harmful

Checking Your Whitening Toothpaste RDA

You can actually check your toothpaste packaging to view its RDA.  Not all will list it, but many do. Here are the RDA values for some of the different toothpaste brands and natural teeth whitening ingredients.

As you can see, whitening toothpaste has a significantly higher RDA than the non-whitening ones but more interesting is that baking soda has a much lower RDA than any toothpaste, and you often hear that using baking soda to whiten teeth can be abrasive – these figures who that’s not true!

Myth 4: Have braces? Don’t whiten (yet)


Dental veneers are a thin layer of porcelain that dentists make to fit over the front surface of your teeth. They have the same concept as fake fingernails that cover the nails. Dentists use veneers to improve the shape, position, and color of the teeth. If you have white stains on teeth, your dentist will choose a precise porcelain shade to ensure the right color of your teeth. That will help to improve the discolored teeth. Depending on the severity of the condition, a dentist may choose a color that will lighten up all your teeth.

Myth 5: Baking Soda is Great for Whitening Teeth


We believe baking soda may have a significant positive impact on whitening teeth at home and there are multiple ways that you can use baking soda to whiten teeth.

If your teeth are really yellow, then baking soda may not have as much of an impact.

Myth 6: Whitening Mouthwashes/Rinses Work

False (Mostly)

While mouthwashes can be great for reaching areas your toothbrush can’t, they may not do a whole lot for making your teeth more white.

The main reason is they contain a much lower concentration of the whitening ingredients.

So they may help you maintain your teeth brightness, but don’t expect significant improvements in your teeth color.  For example, mouthwash alone is not going to help your teeth go from a darker yellow shade to bright white – its important to manage expectations and use the right tools for the job.

Myth 7: I Should My Brush Immediately After Eating


If you’re are eating foods contain acid, sugar, etc (which is most modern foods, to be honest). you run the risk of brushing that right into your enamel.  If you want to prevent stains, swish some water in your mouth and wait at least thirty minutes.