There is a lot of confusion surrounding the tooth whitening trend. It seems like wherever you go, someone has something else to say about tooth whitening. We’re here to straighten out the facts from the myths and set the questions aside once and for all.

Here are the answers to some of the most popular tooth whitening myths:

White teeth are healthy teeth
Just because your teeth are white does not mean that they are healthy. In fact, over-whitening your teeth can have damaging effects if the enamel wears away and the base of the tooth is exposed. White teeth also do not prevent any tooth diseases, including gum disease or cavities.

Tooth whitening hurts
Tooth whitening can cause some pain, because hydrogen peroxide can increase the sensitivity of the tooth. During professional whitening procedures, tooth sensitivity will typically last for about 24 hours. After that, the teeth are re-mineralized by saliva. However, over the counter whitening strips prolong the period of sensitivity, because they strip the teeth each time you use them.

Professional whitening will result in bright white teeth
If you continually whiten your teeth over and over through professional methods you may see bright white teeth, but professionally whitening your teeth once a year or every couple years will not turn your teeth bright white. Usually, your dentist will be able to adjust the level of brightness to your teeth so that the results are not so shocking. It is best to start with a low amount of bleach because teeth do not whiten evenly, and the amount of bleach may have to be adjusted to make all teeth the same color.

There are no side effects to tooth whitening
Most people will never see harmful side effects from tooth whitening. However, potential side effects can include increased sensitivity, gum irritation, or enamel erosion. You can minimize these effects by choosing products for sensitive teeth and choose products with mild chemical compositions.

Whitening teeth will cause cancer
Some people believe that professional tooth whitening will cause cancer. This is not the case. The chemicals used to whiten teeth have been proven to have no influence on your chances of getting cancer.

Tooth whitening will damage the nerves
While tooth whitening can make your teeth feel sensitive for a while, it is unlikely that a professional treatment will damage the nerves. Dentists carefully study the right way to administer the treatments without damaging the nerves or tooth pulp. The chemical composition of professional treatments is low enough that it is extremely unlikely to damage the teeth. However, you should never try professional-strength treatments outside of a qualified dental practice to avoid the potential for causing permanent damage to your teeth.

Just like with many other medical procedures, there are many myths surrounding the practice of tooth whitening. In general, professional procedures are completely safe for most people. However, if you are scared about potential side effects of a whiter smile, simply wear your teeth naturally. Your teeth will not decay faster simply because they are a few shades darker.