Whitening toothpaste: Does it whiten teeth?

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Whitening toothpaste: Does it whiten teeth?

Question

Does whitening toothpaste actually whiten teeth?

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Answer

Whitening toothpaste can whiten teeth slightly by removing surface stains, such as those caused by drinking coffee or smoking. Whitening toothpaste can also be used after a bleaching treatment to help maintain results.

To remove surface stains, whitening toothpaste typically includes:

  • Special abrasives that gently polish the teeth
  • Chemicals that help break down or dissolve stains

Some whitening toothpastes contain the chemical blue covarine, which adheres to the surface of the teeth and creates an optical illusion that can make teeth appear less yellow.

When used twice a day, whitening toothpaste can take from two to six weeks to make teeth appear whiter. Whitening toothpaste that contains blue covarine can have an immediate effect.

Although whitening toothpaste is generally safe for daily use, be careful to follow manufacturer recommendations. Excessive use of whitening toothpaste can damage your tooth enamel over time.

Keep in mind that whitening toothpaste can't change the natural color of your teeth or lighten a stain that goes deeper than a tooth's surface.

If you're considering using a whitening toothpaste, look for a brand that has a seal of approval from a reputable dental organization — such as the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. This seal indicates that the toothpaste is effective at removing surface stains.

If you're not satisfied with the effect of whitening toothpaste, ask your dentist or dental hygienist about other tooth whitening options — such as over-the-counter or professional bleaching products.

Last Updated: 2013-02-22
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