Cosmetic Dentistry |4 min read

5 Truths & Myths About Teeth Whitening

5 truths & myths about teeth whitening


Did you just have your teeth whitened? Or are you contemplating doing it soon?

Today, I wanted to share five myths about teeth whitening and the truth behind each one.

Let’s dive right in.

1. The truth about how long you bleach your teeth

We hear a lot of questions about how long to leave the bleach on teeth. Unfortunately, there seem to be some BIG misconceptions. Teeth whitening can be a great solution, but here’s what you need to know first:

Myth: “The longer I leave the bleach on my teeth, the whiter they will get.”

How long should I leave the bleach on my teeth?

Truth: Only leave teeth whitening bleach on for the instructed amount of time. This time frame will vary depending on the product and strength. Leaving it on for too long may cause tooth sensitivity.

For example, our Gurnee dental office utilizes Ultradent Opalescence™ Bleaching… This text opens a new tab to the Ultradent website… products:

  • Opalescence PF 10%: worn 8-10 hours or overnight
  • Opalescence PF 15%: worn 4-6 hours
  • Opalescence PF 20%: 2-4 hours
  • Opalescence PF 35%: 30-60 minutes
  • Opalescence PF 45%: 15-30 minutes

2. The truth about tooth damage from bleaching

Teeth whitening can dramatically improve your smile in a safe, noninvasive manner.


That doesn’t mean there aren’t negative side effects, especially if done daily.

Here is another common teeth whitening myth:

Myth: “There’s no harm in bleaching every day.”

Can bleaching your teeth daily cause damage?

Truth: You’ll very likely experience sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and even air. Bleaching dehydrates your teeth rendering them vulnerable.

Tooth whitening tip:

If you have to whiten your teeth daily, then you probably aren’t using the right product. If this is the case, talk to your dentist about professional teeth whitening or an alternative way to whiten teeth such as veneers.

Also, if you experience tooth sensitivity, try using sensitive toothpaste to minimize discomfort.

3. The truth about what you can eat or drink after teeth whitening

Eating and drinking after whitening your teeth is a common concern. In fact, many think that bleaching your teeth will cause your teeth to be invincible to the darkening or yellowing effects of many foods and drinks.

With that said, here’s tooth whitening myth #3:

MYTH: “I can eat and drink anything, and my teeth will remain white after bleaching.”

What should I eat or drink after teeth whitening?

TRUTH: Your teeth naturally darken over time and will not be exempt after you bleach them. This is especially true 24 to 48 hours after bleaching, as your teeth are extremely porous.

To extend the lifespan of your bleaching results, you should avoid any foods or drinks with distinct colors, including but not limited to:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Dark soda
  • Marinara sauces

4. The truth about smoking after teeth whitening

Smoking yellows teeth. There’s no way around that fact.

Still, we occasionally hear some who think this isn’t the case. So here’s our fourth myth:

MYTH: “Smoking doesn’t really affect bleaching.”

Can you smoke after teeth whitening?

TRUTH: Smoking is a HUGE factor when it comes to yellowing teeth. If you smoke, your teeth will be yellow. It’s as simple as that, even if you bleach your teeth. Try to avoid smoking for a longer-lasting, whiter smile.

5. The truth about overfilling your bleach trays

Do you sometimes find yourself overfilling your bleaching trays and pressing them down for a more even coverage?

Here’s what you need to know before you do it again:

MYTH: “I’m afraid I’m not going to put enough bleach in my trays, so I add a little extra. Then, I make sure to push down on the trays to really spread out the gel.”

What happens if I overfill my bleach trays?

TRUTH: Overfilling and pushing down to ‘spread out’ the gel actually does more harm than good. Should the gel come in contact with your gums, the gum tissue can be burned, causing great discomfort.

The natural pressure of your lip combined with the warm temperature inside of your mouth will make gel distribute evenly on its own.

Typically, one third to one half of an Opalescence syringe should be plenty for a single bleaching application. Overloading the trays is just a waste of product (and money!).

Is professional teeth whitening worth it?

Don’t let those truths and myths scare you. Many patients love the results of their teeth whitening. In fact, that’s why nearly 9% of patients in one study… This text opens a new tab to the study… requested to have their teeth whitened.

Ready to book an appointment?

Fill out the form below to request an appointment for teeth whitening in Gurnee, IL.


Oops! We could not locate your form.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2010 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness and timeliness.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published.