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Does Whitening Toothpaste Work?

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A woman smiling behind a toothbrush she is holding out in front of her face with whitening tooth applied on the bristles

Making sure your teeth sparkle requires healthy oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings. But sometimes your pearly whites need extra treatment to stay, well…white. One of the ways to help accomplish this is by using whitening toothpaste.

There are alternative whitening treatments to help you get that perfect smile. But whitening toothpaste is accessible and easily integrated into your regular oral care routine. The question is: does it work?

Let’s discuss what whitening toothpaste does and how to get the most out of a product you use. If you want to talk to a dentist about the colour of your teeth please schedule an appointment at Southgate Dental Centre in Edmonton.

What is Whitening Toothpaste?

Brushing twice a day with toothpaste is essential for keeping your teeth clean and healthy. Toothpaste (or dentifrice) is a substance to be used with brushing that can benefit your teeth in several ways:

  • Prevent cavities
  • Reduces tooth sensitivity
  • Prevents plaque and gingivitis
  • Controls staining
  • Improves bad breath

Whitening toothpaste is designed to remove and control surface stains on your teeth. These pastes contain ingredients that focus specifically on stain prevention and teeth whitening. Whitening toothpaste combines gentle abrasives with chemicals that break down tooth stains, with peroxide being the most commonly used. 

Types of Whitening Toothpaste

There are many brands of whitening toothpaste in the market today. The exact ingredients and proportions can change with each product. Look for the Canadian Dental Association seal of validation for toothpaste products trusted by dentists.

The whitening agents a toothpaste contains may fall into these general categories:

How Whitening Toothpaste Works

Most whitening toothpaste combines hydrogen peroxide with an abrasive within the paste to gently scrub and polish stains while you brush. Surface stains and plaque are removed during this process. Hydrogen peroxide levels are very low but can bleach the surface of the teeth. These processes can make teeth appear whiter than before.

3 tubes of toothpaste that were used to create the shape of 3 corresponding question marks above the tubes on a blue background, to signify the concept of choosing the correct whitening toothpaste

Is Whitening Toothpaste Effective?

Two types of staining can occur on your teeth. The effectiveness of whitening toothpaste depends on the type of staining you are hoping to remove.

  • Extrinsic stains, or surface stains, are on the outside of the tooth. These stains are more easily removed if they are addressed daily.
  • Intrinsic stains are located under the surface layer of your enamel. They can be caused by staining particles working through the surface of the tooth and require more intense treatment. Unfortunaly as we age, the compostion of our teeth change internally, laying down more dentin, making your teeth appear more opaque and thus, darker. 

Whitening toothpaste works much better for addressing surface stains. Brushing for 2-3 minutes twice a day is recommended for managing extrinsic tooth staining. Of course, keeping your teeth healthy and white also requires professional dental cleanings twice a year. 

When using whitening toothpaste regularly, your teeth may appear whiter after 2-6 weeks.

Whitening toothpaste is not effective at removing intrinsic tooth stains. The contact time during brushing and levels of bleaching agents in toothpaste are not enough to whiten teeth with this type of discolouration. Professional whitening treatments from your dentist or store-bought at-home kits are required to effectively treat intrinsic staining.

Alternatives to Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening your teeth with toothpaste is a gradual and ongoing process. Results are likely to occur with small increments and paced progress. If you’re looking for a more immediate whitening treatment, you should consider some esthetic dentistry solutions.

Southgate Dental Centre can help boost your smile confidence with a variety of safe, effective treatments. Schedule an appointment to talk with our dentists about the following whitening solutions:

  • Zoom! Dental Whitening in office or take home, uses a dental gel to whiten your teeth.
  • Dental Veneers, which are thin shells that cover the surface of your teeth and hide discolourations and other undesirable esthetics, available in porcelain and composite materials. Make sure to talk with your dentist to learn which type is right for you.
  • Dental Crowns are used to change the colour of your teeth when strength beyond a veneer is required.

Seeing Your Smile Shine

A whiter smile can build your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Brushing twice a day with whitening toothpaste is a great way to prevent discolouration of your teeth. But staining that has already occurred and has worked through the surface of your teeth requires whitening treatment beyond toothpaste.

Another essential part of keeping your smile shining is bi-annual dental exams and cleanings. This also gives you an opportunity to discuss whitening solutions with your dentist. Southgate Dental Centre is your partner in oral healthcare and is always here to keep you smiling brightly.

Written by Dr. Kevin Hamm

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