Are Whitening Toothpastes Just Hype?

Shelf space is the thing when it comes to a trip to your local Stop & Shop these days. Where there formerly was one type of Chips Ahoy, now there are like six. There once was a single Special K cereal; now you could get lost in their variety.

The same is true for the toothpaste aisle. There once was Colgate or Crest in a basic regular flavor. Then came mint. Then came paste or gel. Then came tartar control. Then it was breath freshening (isn’t that what tooth brushing does inherently?). Then there was baking soda toothpaste. Then came whitening toothpaste. Whoa. If you have trouble making decisions, the toothpaste section just became a difficult place for you.

Our patients often come in for their cleanings at our Edison offices and ask if they should be using a whitening toothpaste because they like their morning coffee and some red wine with dinner.

Question is — is it all hype, thanks to the folks across the river on Madison Avenue, or do whitening toothpastes actually work. Let’s get into it.

Limited goals

Whitening toothpastes focus on surface stains on your teeth, such as those caused by drinking coffee or red wine. These stains are on the outermost surface of your tooth enamel. Whitening toothpastes can break down these stains, although not with instantly dramatic results.

Unlike teeth whitening options, whitening toothpastes do not contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. This is the ingredient that gives teeth whitening programs their real power to whiten teeth. Instead, whitening toothpastes use special abrasives that gently polish the teeth, along with other chemicals that help break down stains.

There is a fine line here — too much abrasion and the tooth enamel can be worn down. That’s why whitening toothpastes can only go so far. Without peroxide, they must remove stains by gently scrubbing off the stains.

Some whitening toothpastes contain the chemical blue covarine. This adheres to the surface of the teeth and creates an optical illusion that can make teeth appear less yellow. Drs. Strober, Messer, and Butkofski don’t recommend these types of whitening toothpastes.

Instead, we believe you can get moderate whitening with a whitening toothpaste that simply attacks stains. Be sure to look for approval by the American Dental Association, however. And it should have fluoride, even if you’re well past your cavity-prone years.

Our in-office whitening

Of course, if you want to whiten your teeth beyond even their natural color, you should opt for our in-office teeth bleaching treatment at Gentle Dental. In about an hour it will make your teeth amazingly white.

Is it time to come in for your regular cleaning and exam? Call us at Gentle Dental, (732) 549-5660, to schedule your appointment.

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