Teeth whitening can help brighten up a dingy smile. There are many possible choices, from professional whitening in a dentist's office to do-it-yourself kits. Whatever you choose, it's important to get the facts ahead of time. Not everything you hear about teeth whitening is true. Check out these debunked myths. Myth #1: It's too expensive. The truth is teeth whitening doesn't have to cost a fortune. At-home tooth whitening is usually more affordable than the professional whitening your dentist does. But that doesn't mean all professional whitening will be out of your budget. Teeth-whitening kits run about $100. In-office professional whitening costs an average of $650. Costs vary widely, though. Some versions can cost as much as $3,500. Your dentist can set you up with at-home whitening trays for about $350. Myth #2: It will make my teeth too sensitive. Teeth-whitening solutions in teeth-whitening kits sometimes do make teeth more sensitive, but it’s not a permanent side effect. The bleaching solution may cause mild irritation to your gums as well. That's also temporary. And, there are ways to deal with this so you can still whiten your teeth. Wear the teeth-whitening trays or strips for a shorter amount of time. If you're supposed to apply the solution for an hour, do it in two 30-minute sessions. Take a break for a few days after you first start whitening your teeth. Also, use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Myth #3: It can work for anyone. Teeth-whitening solutions cannot always get teeth bright white—even if you opt for the pricey in-office whitening treatments. Whitening treatments don't work on dentures, veneers, caps, crowns or fillings. Teeth stained gray or blue, often from medications or trauma, might not whiten. Teeth stained brown might not whiten completely. But, teeth that are yellowish in color usually whiten the best. Talk to your dentist about whether your teeth are likely to respond well to whitening. Myth #4: I just need to do it once. Most teeth-whitening treatments need touch-ups. Professional treatments done in a dentist's office may last up to three years. Even then, you may need additional treatments after six months to a year. At-home whitening kits may need more frequent applications. It all depends on your teeth, the whitening solution you use, and your habits. Smoking and drinking coffee can make teeth discolor more quickly, for instance. Myth #5: You must have the treatment in a dentist's office to get good results. Not necessarily. Dentists use a concentrated bleaching gel and a light to help whiten teeth. They make sure the amount used is safe and apply something to protect your gums. And, even if you need to repeat the procedure, just one visit can provide results. The American Dental Association has not approved at-home bleaching strips, gel kits, and whitening toothpastes. They may be effective, but it's important to consult your dentist before trying any of them. Ask if a specific teeth-whitening kit would be safe for you. Get some tips to make sure you'll use it correctly. Learn more about Downtown Dental's cosmetic whitening options.