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Does Whitening Toothpaste Really Work?

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whitening toothpaste in the shape of a question mark

Many people believe whitening toothpaste is just a clever gimmick promoted by the industry. Some are convinced it can actually damage teeth.

Let’s examine the facts and fiction as well as other ways you can polish those pearly whites.

Want to avoid whitening toothpaste? Click here for at-home teeth whitening tips and tricks.

There’s no magic bullet for teeth whitening

Let’s start with a fact: whitening toothpaste does work and has been proven to be effective at actually “whitening” teeth. But it definitely has its limitations.

  • It isn’t a long-term solution for stained teeth. Why? Because it can’t reach deep, or what’s referred to as intrinsic, stains which is a staining of the dentin, or the inner layer of teeth.
  • Whitening toothpaste only works on extrinsic stains, those surface stains your teeth get from coffee, colas, and smoking. The mild abrasives, gentle polishing, and chemical agents found in the toothpaste dissolve the stains, which can make your teeth appear whiter.
  • It can’t change the natural color of your teeth. Your tooth color is determined by three layers: the inner dentin, the outer enamel, and a layer called pellicle that forms a film over your teeth right after you brush them. Even after you remove the surface stains, the other two layers remain the same.

Other teeth whitening methods

From tooth polishes to whitening trays and strips, bleaching, and laser treatments, there are plenty of other options for whitening your teeth. But do they all work? More importantly, are they safe? Most over-the-counter whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, both of which help lighten the color deep in your teeth.

In office bleaching offers excellent results and can be done quickly. It costs more than toothpaste, but the results may well be worth it. Trays and gels also produce whiter teeth, but it takes longer to see results. Teeth whitening strips are easy to use and most of them do work. Results vary depending on the amount of peroxide they contain.

And keep in mind that whitening toothpastes typically lighten the tooth’s color by one shade. Prescription strength whitening done by your dentist can make your teeth 3 to 8 shades lighter!

Learn about the professional solution - Colgate Optic White

Are whiter teeth healthier teeth?

Not necessarily. And even teeth that have been well cared for may not be blindingly white. Having bright white teeth may look more attractive, but it doesn’t mean they’re in better condition. In fact, off-white or yellowish teeth can be healthier because many whitening products strip away or erode the enamel.

The final results

Used twice a day, whitening toothpaste can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to make your teeth appear whiter, though some products contain blue covarine which can have an immediate effect. While the product is designed to maximize cleaning and minimize wear on tooth enamel, be careful to follow the manufacturer’s—and your dentist’s—recommendations when using it.

Caven Dental can help you decide whether a whitening toothpaste or other whitening treatment is best for you. Want to learn more? Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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