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Can Toothpaste Whiten Your Teeth?

Posted in cosmetic dentistry, and Dental Care

Centuries before people understood the chemical process of tooth decay and its health consequences, they fought to have a whiter smile.  Given the choice of decaying yellow teeth or the bright white healthy look, it’s easy to see why there is a lot of money spent on developing products that whiten teeth.  Lately, several toothpaste manufacturers boast scientific backed evidence that their brand whitens your teeth.  Can toothpaste whiten your teeth? Beware, the word “whitening” isn’t accurate.  True whitening of your teeth can only be achieved through the bleaching activity of Hydrogen Peroxide against your teeth.  This is usually with concentrated strips or trays exposing the teeth incrementally.  As people are acquainted with the use of Hydrogen Peroxide to whiten teeth, toothpaste companies have added it to their products to cash in on our ignorance.  Studies have proved that peroxide toothpastes are no more effective than regular toothpastes for whitening teeth.  Toothpaste (all toothpaste) can however remove stains from the tooth surface and give the appearance of whiter teeth, but to say they are “whitening” is inaccurate.  Sometimes the best stain removing toothpaste can also be the one that costs the least as well. (i.e. according to one study, Ultrabrite All in One Advanced Whitening performed the best when tested on artificial stains applied to cows’ teeth. Interestingly, it contains no peroxide).

Toothpaste & Tarter Reduction

A toothpaste manufacturer’s claims to “control the build up of tarter” can be taken more serious as there are studies that confirm that some of them do just that.  Remember we are talking about “controlling the build” up not removing tarter.  These are two very different things.  Tarter is the yellowish invulnerable material that coats our teeth when we neglect them.  Tarter doesn’t decay teeth but is a sign that tooth decaying bacteria is present.  Tarter is only removed by scraping it away, usually with a dental tool by your hygienist. But sodium pyrophosphate found in tartar-control toothpaste can prevent its buildup.  As always, the real preventative measure for preventing decay and tartar formation is a good routine of brushing and flossing.  Fluoride can also be a game changer in the fight against demineralization caused by plaque. 

The moral of this blog; proper brushing matters more than which toothpaste you choose whether your goal is whitening or a healthy mouth.