We’ve all wanted a bright, white smile that doesn’t look forced or overly polished. But let’s face it – life happens. Our teeth, over time, show the effects of daily wear and tear, the occasional cup of coffee, or maybe even a dental issue or two. We then begin the search for whitening products to restore that youthful gleam to our smiles. But in this quest, we often overlook two critical questions: Are these products safe, and do they actually deliver on their promises?
Each person’s natural tooth colour is unique, influenced by factors like genetics, medical history, and overall oral health. Plus, what works for one person might not be suitable for another, especially if you have sensitive teeth, gum issues, or dental work done. So, the big question remains: Does whitening toothpaste really work?
If you’re on the hunt for answers about the effectiveness of whitening toothpaste, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to clear up the confusion and separate fact from fiction when it comes to teeth-whitening products. Let’s discover the truth about whitening toothpaste, helping you on your way to a brighter, more radiant smile.
Understanding Teeth Whitening
When teeth lose their natural colour and develop stains or a different hue, they become discoloured and dull. This can occur for various reasons and is commonly categorised into two main types:
These are surface stains that affect the outer layer of your teeth. They are often caused by factors such as:
- Diet – Consuming highly pigmented foods and beverages like coffee, tea, red wine, and certain fruits can contribute to staining.
- Tobacco Use – Smoking or chewing tobacco can lead to stubborn extrinsic stains.
- Poor Oral Hygiene: Inadequate brushing and flossing can allow stains to accumulate on the tooth’s surface.
These are deeper stains that occur within the tooth’s structure. Common causes of intrinsic stains include:
- Ageing – As we age, the inner part of our teeth (dentine) naturally darkens, leading to a yellowish appearance.
- Genetics – Some individuals inherit teeth with a more yellow or grey tint.
- Medications – Certain antibiotics and antihistamines can cause intrinsic staining, especially if taken during childhood.
- Dental Trauma: A blow to the tooth can result in discolouration.
- Fluorosis – Overexposure to fluoride
Extrinsic Strains are generally easier to remove. Regular brushing with a toothpaste containing mild abrasives can help remove surface stains. Additionally, professional dental cleaning can provide a deeper clean. Whereas intrinsic Stains may require more intensive treatments, such as professional teeth whitening or dental veneers. These treatments can penetrate the tooth’s structure to lighten deeper stains.
Plaque or tartar buildup can also contribute to tooth discolouration. Plaque, a soft sticky film of bacteria when not adequately removed with regular brushing, can trap pigments from foods and beverages, leading to surface staining. If plaque hardens into tartar, a yellowish or brownish deposit forms on teeth near the gumline. Since tartar is porous, it can absorb pigments from food/beverages/tobacco and accelerate tooth discolouration. In such instances, plaque or tartar must be removed through a professional cleaning before opting for teeth whitening treatments.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening, whether through toothpaste or professional treatments, works by using peroxide-based solutions, to break down and remove stains from the tooth’s surface and sometimes within its structure.
Whitening toothpaste often contains mild abrasives and sometimes peroxide to scrub away surface stains and lighten extrinsic discolouration. They work well for mild staining caused by food, drinks, and tobacco use. Professional Treatments offer more potent whitening solutions that contain higher concentrations of peroxide. These treatments can address deeper, intrinsic stains more effectively.
The Effectiveness of Whitening Toothpaste
Teeth whitening toothpastes are generally safe when used in moderation. They help address surface stains and help keep teeth whiter in the short term. However excessive use, especially toothpaste with harsher abrasives can weaken tooth enamel, leading to sensitivity and gum irritation. If you are concerned about tooth discolouration or stained teeth, it’s always advisable to consult your dentist. They can help guide you based on your dental health, oral hygiene, and aesthetic requirements, providing personalised recommendations on oral hygiene products and use.
It’s also important to remember that the effects of whitening toothpaste are not immediate, and they can only help address extrinsic stains. It may also take a few weeks of regular use before you see results. The primary advantage of whitening toothpaste is that it can help counter discolouration, removing stains before they become permanent, making it a good maintenance measure.
A few things to consider before buying a tooth whitening toothpaste include:
- Look for an ADA seal to ensure the concentration of abrasive ingredients is balanced and safe to use.
- Checking the ingredients for abrasive ingredients like charcoal or asking your dentist about active ingredients in whitening toothpaste to minimise tooth enamel damage
- Following label instructions and using the toothpaste twice a day for a specific period as long-term use can weaken tooth enamel.
- Choosing toothpaste with fluoride as an active ingredient can help prevent cavities and gum disease.
Teeth Whitening Procedures
If you are looking for a more lasting whitening result or want to lighten your teeth colour by several shades, professional teeth whitening treatments may be a better alternative. These procedures are supervised by a qualified dentist and the treatment is tailored to your specific whitening requirements. This helps manage problems like teeth sensitivity and prevent damage to tooth enamel and gums.
There are two types of teeth whitening procedures:
In Chair Teeth Whitening
In-chair teeth whitening can help whiten your teeth in a single visit. It involves applying a concentrated hydrogen peroxide teeth gel on your teeth and activating it with a special light. The whitening gel may be applied several times during the visit based on the shade you wish to achieve, with each cycle typically lasting for 15 minutes. In-chair teeth whitening provides instant results, helping you get brighter teeth in only one session. The results can vary for each person based on your natural tooth colour and condition.
Take Home Teeth Whitening
Take-home teeth whitening kits offer all the benefits of a whiter smile from the comfort of your home. It involves creating custom teeth whitening trays after taking your teeth impressions. The trays will include a concentrated teeth whitening gel personalised to your whitening goals. The trays fit over your teeth snugly like a mouthguard and must be worn for a couple of hours or overnight. Your dentist will provide specific instructions on the usage and duration of the treatment to help you achieve the shade you want.
At Dana Street Dental, we offer both in-chair and take-home teeth whitening. We begin with an initial consultation to help understand your concerns and aesthetic needs, conducting a thorough evaluation of your teeth to craft a bespoke treatment plant. Our priority is to provide accurate results without compromising on quality and ensuring the treatment is suited to your teeth. If required, we may recommend a dental cleaning to remove plaque or tartar buildup before teeth whitening. This provides a cleaner surface, improving the results of the procedure while improving your oral health.
Maintaining a White Smile
Maintaining your teeth whitening results requires a combination of good oral hygiene practices, dietary choices, and lifestyle adjustments. Here are some tips to help you keep your teeth looking bright and white:
Consistent Oral Hygiene Practices
Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, using a soft-bristle toothbrush to avoid enamel damage. Don’t forget to clean between your teeth using dental floss or an interdental brush to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Limit Staining Foods and Beverages
Moderate consumption of staining foods like berries or drinks like coffee, tea, and wine to maintain the whiteness of your smile and prevent stains. Also avoid acidic foods and drinks as they can weaken tooth enamel, making it easier for stains to set in. Additionally, using a straw or rinsing your mouth after eating or drinking can help reduce the impact of staining substances on your teeth.
Smoking and chewing tobacco can lead to severe tooth discolouration. Quitting tobacco use not only benefits your overall health but also preserves your whitening results.
Regular Dental Check-Ups
Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. They allow your dentist to detect emerging or potential dental issues early with timely treatment and damage control. Dental checkups also involve teeth cleaning to remove plaque or tartar buildup to help maintain oral health and protect teeth and gums.
At Dana Street Dental, we recommend half-yearly dental checkups to monitor your oral health and help maintain a healthy smile. Our comprehensive checkups include a thorough examination, x-rays if required, dental cleaning and fluoride treatment for additional protection. We also take this opportunity to address your concerns, answer your questions regarding oral health and guide you on the correct technique and usage of dental tools and products.
Put the Sparkle Back in Your Smile with Bespoke Teeth Whitening Solutions
Getting a white and healthy smile isn’t difficult. All it requires is proactive and preventive oral care and the right guidance to help you maintain it. At our Ballarat Clinic, we’re here to support you at every stage of your smile journey. From general dental treatments to treat cavities and impacted wisdom teeth to cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening and dental veneers, we’re your oral health partners for life. Book a consultation today.