Fact Check: Does whitening toothpaste actually whiten teeth?

Quick Take

A lot of whitening toothpaste advertisements claim to be able to change the colour of teeth to shining white. We fact-checked and found most of these claims to be half true.

While such toothpaste often has mild abrasives and can remove some surface stains caused by coffee etc. they cannot change the natural colour of your teeth.

The Claim

A lot of tooth whitening toothpaste Ads are available on various mediums from big and small brands alike. Some of them promise miraculous results in making the teeth shiny white. An example snapshot of a Facebook post is given below.

Fact Check

What is the natural colour of your teeth?

The natural colour of our teeth is believed to be slightly yellow. While the enamel is white, the dentin layer underneath it is yellow. This yellow dentin shows through the enamel in most cases giving the overall teeth a slight yellowish tinge.

Some research has shown that our teeth colour may even change with age or the region we live in.

How does whitening toothpaste work?

Most whitening toothpastes have some form of micro abrasive materials along with some form of chemical. While the chemical dissolves the stains the abrasive materials scrub it away while brushing.

Can whitening toothpaste whiten teeth?

Yes. But in a limited way.

Research has shown that whitening toothpaste does have an effect while removing stains from the upper layer of the teeth.

However, whitening toothpaste may not be able to remove stains that go deep inside by penetrating the enamel. Also, some stains may be more difficult to be removed and can require professional intervention.

The website of Colgate says, “The type of tooth discolouration you have may influence the type of whitening treatment that will be most effective.”

Also, whitening toothpaste cannot change the natural colour of your teeth.

Does whitening toothpaste damage teeth?

Unclear. There are multiple expert views on this.

Some research has shown that the use of whitening toothpaste leads to damage to the enamel while some other research shows that not all whitening toothpaste have similar effects on your teeth.

Experts suggest that to avoid any chance of damage you should not use whitening toothpaste along with a soft brush and should not use it for a longer duration.

Dr. Pooja Bharadwaj

Dr. Pooja Bhardwaj, BDS suggests, “There isn’t much conclusive evidence to call whitening toothpaste as harmful. That said, it is best not to use these toothpastes for a period of more than 4 weeks at stretch. Always brush twice with a soft brush. Extra brushing or brushing hard will not change the colour of teeth suddenly, rather it will create more chances of damage.”

Dr. Aashnaa Pillai

Dr. Aashnaa Pillai, BDS, FILD, says, “Whitening toothpaste contains abrasive agents that are meant to scratch the external surface of your teeth to give them a shinier and whiter appearance. Prolonged use of such abrasive agents can eventually cause thinning of the enamel, the hardest part of your tooth that does not grow back. This can lead to tooth sensitivity and the risk of developing dental caries.”

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