hand holding bamboo toothbrush with white toothpaste on it

Does Whitening Toothpaste Actually Work?

From at-home kits to professional treatments, there are many ways to whiten your teeth. Most people want a brighter smile, and many of them go for the most convenient option—whitening toothpaste. But before you go grab a tube yourself, let’s take a look at how well whitening toothpaste actually works. 

Does Whitening Toothpaste Work, and Is It Effective?

In general, whitening toothpaste is fairly effective at removing surface stains from teeth. However, the results are not immediate, and not all brands of toothpaste are created equal. 

Whether or not whitening toothpaste will actually work for you will depend on three things:

  1. The severity of your tooth discoloration
  2. The ingredients in the toothpaste you choose
  3. How quickly you want to get results 

Whitening Toothpaste Can’t Fix Deep Discoloration

Yellowish tooth discoloration can sometimes be a simple surface stain caused by drinking coffee or smoking tobacco. But yellow teeth can also be a sign of enamel erosion, which is a much bigger problem. 

Enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of teeth, but as strong as it is, it can still wear down over time. Dental issues like tooth decay and teeth grinding can cause enamel erosion as well. Enamel erosion also leads to tooth sensitivity and increases your risk of cavities and gum disease

When tooth enamel gets thinner, it begins to expose the yellow dentin underneath, making your teeth look discolored. Whitening toothpaste can’t brighten exposed dentin. Instead, you’ll need a professional whitening treatment or dental bonding to restore your teeth. 

Some Whitening Toothpaste Ingredients Can Damage Your Teeth

Some of the ingredients that make whitening toothpastes effective are actually bad for your teeth and gums. 

For instance, charcoal toothpaste is extremely abrasive. It temporarily makes teeth appear whiter by scrubbing away at their enamel, which can lead to long-term discoloration from exposed dentin. The charcoal can also scratch and irritate your gums, leaving you vulnerable to gum disease. 

Although it’s not nearly as damaging as charcoal can be, baking soda is another abrasive ingredient commonly found in whitening toothpaste. Baking soda toothpaste is safe when used once a day, but you need to brush twice daily to effectively remove plaque and bacteria. 

So if you don’t want to invest in two different toothpastes, look for a toothpaste with safer ingredients like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide instead. Keep in mind that your toothpaste should also contain fluoride to help strengthen your tooth enamel. 

Whitening Toothpaste Takes Time

If you’re looking for immediate results, you’re not going to get them with a whitening toothpaste. When you use whitening toothpaste according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it can take up to six weeks for your smile to start looking whiter. Professional whitening treatments, however, can show results in as little as 24 hours.  

Your Lifestyle Can Also Affect Whitening Treatments

No matter which whitening method you choose, you’ll probably need to make some lifestyle changes to keep your teeth white. For instance, smoking tobacco severely stains your teeth, and can quickly undo everything your whitening treatments did. 

There are also many drinks that stain teeth, including coffee, red wine, tea, and dark sodas. You can cut back on these beverages, drink through a straw, and drink water after to minimize the discoloration they cause. 

Lastly, it’s crucial that you take good care of your teeth. Poor oral hygiene also stains teeth due to plaque buildup and enamel erosion. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings. 

Professional Teeth Whitening in Gilbert, Arizona 

At Lifetime Family Dental, we offer fast, effective in-house and at-home teeth whitening treatments. We can also recommend a safe whitening toothpaste to use after treatment, to help the results last longer. Give us a call at 480-558-4331 today to discuss our whitening treatment options or to schedule an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/16/2023). Photo by Nik on Unsplash