Having a bright, white smile is something that many people strive for. Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that involves removing stains and discoloration from the teeth to improve their appearance. While there are many ways to whiten your teeth, one of the easiest and most affordable methods is by using whitening toothpaste.
⚠️ If you’re reading this article, we have to tell you that there won’t be any recommendations in this article. As toothpaste manufacturer, all we want to show you is the science behind a whitening toothpaste, and help you determine which toothpaste is the best for whitening teeth.
How Toothpaste Whitens Teeth
Toothpaste is an essential dental care product that plays a significant role in maintaining oral health. It’s a common misconception that toothpaste only helps to clean teeth. Still, it also helps in whitening teeth by removing surface stains and improving the overall appearance of teeth.
Enamel and Dentin
To understand how toothpaste whitens teeth, we need to first understand the structure of teeth. Teeth are composed of two layers: enamel and dentin. Enamel is the outermost layer that covers the tooth’s crown, and dentin is the inner layer that supports the enamel and makes up the bulk of the tooth’s structure.
The enamel is the most visible part of the tooth and is responsible for giving the tooth its white color. However, enamel is also susceptible to staining and discoloration, which can make teeth look yellow or dull.
The Role of Toothpaste in Removing Stains
Stains on teeth can be caused by various factors, such as smoking, drinking coffee or tea, and eating certain foods. Toothpaste helps to remove these stains by using mild abrasives to scrub away surface stains. The abrasives in toothpaste are usually made of particles such as silica, calcium carbonate, or baking soda. These particles gently scrub away surface stains without damaging the enamel.
In addition to removing surface stains, toothpaste also contains detergents and surfactants that help to break up and remove surface stains. These ingredients work by breaking down the bonds between the stain molecules and the tooth surface, making it easier to remove the stain.
The Science Behind Whitening Toothpaste
Whitening toothpaste is a specialized type of toothpaste that is designed to remove surface stains and improve the overall appearance of teeth. The active ingredients in whitening toothpaste are typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These ingredients work by breaking down the molecules that cause stains and discoloration on the tooth surface.
When these peroxide compounds come into contact with the tooth surface, they release oxygen molecules, which react with the stain molecules to break them down into smaller, less visible particles. The result is a brighter, whiter smile.
It’s important to note that while whitening toothpaste can be effective at removing surface stains, it’s not a substitute for professional teeth whitening treatments. Professional treatments can penetrate deeper into the tooth structure to remove more stubborn stains and discoloration.
Types of Whitening Toothpaste
These types of toothpaste contain mild abrasives that work by scrubbing the surface of the teeth to remove surface stains. The abrasives can be made from various materials, including baking soda, silica, or calcium carbonate. While surface whiteners can be effective in removing superficial stains caused by food, beverages, or tobacco, they are unable to penetrate the enamel to remove deeper stains.
Peroxide-based toothpaste contains either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the active ingredient. These chemicals work by penetrating the enamel and breaking down the chemical bonds that hold the stains together, leading to a bleaching effect. Peroxide-based whiteners can be very effective in removing deep stains caused by aging, genetics, or medication. However, they can also cause tooth sensitivity or gum irritation if overused.
Charcoal-based toothpaste contains activated charcoal, which is a form of carbon that has been treated with oxygen to make it highly porous. The porous structure of charcoal can trap impurities, including stains, on the surface of the teeth. Charcoal-based toothpaste can remove surface stains caused by food, beverages, or tobacco, but it may not be as effective in removing deeper stains. There is limited scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of charcoal-based toothpaste, and it may also be abrasive and cause enamel erosion.
Enzyme-based toothpaste contains enzymes that work by breaking down the protein pellicle that forms on the surface of the teeth. The pellicle can trap stains and make teeth appear yellow. By breaking down the pellicle, enzyme-based toothpaste can remove surface stains and prevent new stains from forming. However, the effectiveness of enzyme-based toothpaste may vary depending on the individual’s diet and oral hygiene habits.
Ingredients to Look for in Whitening Toothpaste
Hydrogen peroxide is a well-known and widely used whitening agent that works by breaking down the molecules that cause tooth discoloration. When used in toothpaste, it can help to lift stains and brighten the appearance of teeth. However, it’s worth noting that hydrogen peroxide can be quite harsh on tooth enamel, so it’s essential to use toothpaste that contains only a safe concentration of this ingredient.
Baking soda is another popular ingredient in many whitening toothpaste products. This natural, abrasive substance can help to scrub away surface stains on teeth, leaving them looking cleaner and brighter. Additionally, baking soda has an alkaline pH, which can help to neutralize acids in the mouth that can lead to tooth decay and discoloration.
Sodium tripolyphosphate is a chemical compound that is commonly used in toothpaste to help prevent the formation of tartar and plaque. When used in combination with other whitening agents, such as hydrogen peroxide or baking soda, it can help to enhance the overall whitening effect of toothpaste. Additionally, sodium tripolyphosphate has been shown to have a protective effect on tooth enamel, helping to keep teeth healthy and strong.
Fluoride is a mineral that is often added to toothpaste to help protect teeth against decay and cavities. While it’s not a whitening agent per se, it can help to maintain the overall health and appearance of teeth. When used in conjunction with other whitening agents, such as hydrogen peroxide or baking soda, it can help to prevent new stains from forming on teeth.
Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound that is often used in toothpaste products designed for people with sensitive teeth. When used in toothpaste, it can help to desensitize the nerves in the teeth, reducing pain and discomfort caused by hot or cold foods and beverages. While it’s not a whitening agent per se, it can be found in some whitening toothpaste products to help make them more comfortable to use.
Ingredients to Avoid in Whitening Toothpaste
Silica, also known as hydrated silica or silicon dioxide, is a common ingredient in toothpaste that helps to remove surface stains on teeth. While silica is generally considered safe, excessive use can cause damage to tooth enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and increased risk of cavities. Additionally, the abrasive nature of silica can cause gum irritation and other oral health issues.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant that creates foam in toothpaste, which gives the impression that the toothpaste is working. SLS can cause irritation to the gums, cheeks, and tongue, and it can also cause canker sores. Furthermore, SLS can dry out the mouth, which can lead to bad breath and an increased risk of cavities.
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent commonly found in personal care products, including some whitening toothpaste. While it can help reduce plaque and gingivitis, the overuse of triclosan can lead to antibiotic resistance. Triclosan can also interfere with the thyroid hormone system, leading to hormonal disruption and potentially long-term health problems.
Parabens are preservatives that are commonly used in personal care products, including toothpaste. These chemicals can mimic estrogen and disrupt the endocrine system, leading to an increased risk of hormone-related cancers. Parabens can also cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and can lead to a decrease in collagen production, which can accelerate the aging process.
How to Choose the Best Whitening Toothpaste
Identifying Your Whitening Needs
To identify your whitening needs, consider factors such as the severity and cause of your tooth discoloration. Surface stains caused by lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking coffee or tea, or consuming dark-colored foods can usually be removed with regular brushing using a toothpaste that contains abrasive particles like hydrated silica or baking soda. On the other hand, deep stains caused by factors such as medication, aging, or genetics may require more specialized whitening toothpaste that contains higher levels of active ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, or sodium bicarbonate. It’s essential to select the right toothpaste that matches your specific whitening needs.
Checking the Ingredients
The ingredients in whitening toothpaste play a crucial role in how effectively they can whiten your teeth. For instance, hydrogen peroxide is one of the most common ingredients in whitening toothpaste, and it works by breaking down the stains on your teeth to make them whiter. Carbamide peroxide is another popular ingredient that releases hydrogen peroxide when it comes into contact with your teeth. It’s also important to check the concentration of active ingredients as higher concentrations can be more effective but also more likely to cause tooth sensitivity or gum irritation. Additionally, it’s essential to select a toothpaste with low abrasivity to prevent enamel erosion.
Reading Reviews and Recommendations
When reading reviews and recommendations for whitening toothpaste, it’s important to consider the source of the information. Some websites may receive compensation or other incentives for promoting certain brands, so it’s essential to read reviews from reputable sources like dental professionals or independent consumer organizations. You can also check for any safety warnings or recalls for the toothpaste you’re considering, as some brands may contain harmful ingredients or be contaminated with harmful substances.