You’re at the store buying whitening toothpaste, and lo and behold after a few weeks your teeth still have a yellowish tint and your smile isn’t brilliantly white. So what’s wrong with this situation? Nothing, because truth is — whitening toothpaste may not actually work.
There are many whitening options available to you at varying price points including popular options like in-office treatments, at-home kits, and of course — whitening toothpaste.
Whitening toothpaste can appear to whiten teeth by removing surface stains, such as those caused by coffee or smoking. However, whitening toothpaste can’t change the actual color of your teeth, or for that matter, lighten a stain that is deeper than surface level.
Unlike other tooth-whitening products, whitening toothpaste doesn’t contain peroxide a key ingredient in the tooth-whitening process. Instead, these products typically employ the use of abrasives and chemicals to remove surface stains. Some even contain the chemical blue covarine, which adheres to the surface enamel to create an optical illusion that can make teeth appear less yellow.
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Americans spend nearly $1.4 billion each year on teeth whitening products to bleach away the effects of things such as cigarettes, coffee, red wine, and general age. Although whitening toothpaste does not work, some whitening treatments can make a big difference in your smile’s whiteness. But in some cases, they may not help. Why?
There are several causes for teeth discoloration including abscessed teeth, tooth decay, and even root canal problems. In these instances, bleaching might be able to mask the issue for a while, but will not resolve the underlying issue. Here your teeth are still susceptible to cavities and diseases such as gingivitis which are far worse than merely the appearance of yellowing teeth. According to Dr. Sharon Zastrow, of Dentistry IQ, “It is a misnomer that whiter teeth are the same as healthy teeth since tooth color has very little to do with the health of the tooth. The consumer perception, though, is that white teeth equal a healthy mouth, and perception is reality.”
Additionally, there are also other more cosmetic considerations to be aware of. For instance, one important factor is a teeth-to-gum ratio, or how much of your teeth and gums show when you smile. Usually, those with shorter teeth and a particularly gummy smile do not benefit from bleaching because whiter teeth will actually accentuate the gumminess of your smile. In addition, any exposed roots won’t bleach, so if there is any root exposure, your results may not be as you anticipated. In these cases, it may be better to explore other cosmetic options.
If you want to whiten your teeth, consult with your dentist first. He or she can talk to you about your teeth, the causes of discoloration, and the best solution for you. In some cases, whitening may not always be the proper solution for your teeth.
If you would like to schedule a visit with your dentist to discuss teeth whitening options, contact us at any one of our five local offices to set up an appointment and get you that much closer to the smile you’ve always wanted.