Do Teeth Whitening Toothpastes Really Work?

By October 10, 2013 August 27th, 2015 Dental Health, healthy teeth, Oral Health, tooth whitening
We all want that gleaming white Hollywood smile, even us dentists. We all want our teeth to look good, our smiles to be confident and our smiles to be worth a million dollars. Most of us don’t have a million dollars to spend whitening teeth, so elect to use whitening toothpastes instead. But do they work?

Let’s find out.

The Structure of a Tooth

First let’s see how a tooth is built so we understand the effects these toothpastes have on them. The outer layer of your teeth is call enamel. It’s shiny, tough and takes a lot of punishment. Underneath is a layer we call dentin, which is another tough layer that discolors naturally when you age. Inside that is the body of the tooth itself.

The enamel’s job is to protect your teeth from acids and daily use. Many foods and drinks contain acids that eat away at the tooth enamel, which is why it’s so important to brush regularly to remove it. The enamel can be discolored by coffee, nicotine, tea and a range of other popular products. It is this discoloration that whitening teeth is concerned with.

How to Tooth Whitening Toothpastes Work?

As well as the standard characteristics of normal toothpastes, whitening toothpastes contain abrasives. They are small particles that attempt to scrape off the stains from the tooth making them whiter again. Some also contain something called blue covarine, which coats the teeth and reflects white light, making them look whiter.

Some whitening toothpastes contain a bleaching agent too, which works to whiten teeth. The permitted level of 1 percent is usually too little to have any real effect though.

So Do Tooth Whitening Toothpastes Work?

Whitening toothpastes, if used properly can contribute to white teeth but their effect is usually negligible. It isn’t possible to say definitively because everyone is different, every tooth is different and there are too many whitening toothpastes out there to color them all with the same broad brush.

However, we would say that as holistic dentists, we don’t agree with the use of abrasives in toothpastes and certainly not the use of bleaching agents. Abrasives aren’t targeted. As well as attacking stains, they also attack tooth enamel. That’s not a good thing when it’s the only real defense your tooth has.

We would suggest a healthy oral health regimen and professional tooth whitening from a dentist. Why pay a premium over normal toothpaste when the effects are negligible? If you’re tempted to use a whitening toothpaste for whitening teeth, think twice.

If you would like advice on choosing the right toothpaste, check out our blog post entitled “How Do I Choose the Right Natural Toothpaste?” If you would like further advice or your teeth whitened, make an appointment with Aesthetic Family Dentistry today!

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