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Whitening Toothpaste 101: The Basics of Daily Whitening

Before you choose whitening toothpaste, did you know there are different kinds available? Learn about active ingredients, what they do for your teeth and more information about how to choose the best whitening toothpaste for your needs.

How Does Whitening Toothpaste Work?

There are numerous options available on store shelves, but not all options are the same. There are two basic types that each use different key ingredients. Some are actually surface stain removers: they whiten by gently polishing your teeth. This can remove the discoloration from staining foods and drinks.

Some whitening toothpaste types have bleaching ingredients to truly change the color of your teeth. Bleaching toothpaste typically works faster and has longer-lasting results. However, speak with your dental hygienist or dentist before trying a whitening product. They have been known to cause tooth sensitivity and can affect veneers, crowns, or other dental devices.

How to Choose a Whitening Toothpaste

The active ingredients can change how effectively the products whiten your teeth. Usually, whitening toothpaste includes one of these three ingredients:

  • Mild abrasives. The Journal of the American Dental Association reports that some types contain only mild abrasives. These ingredients don't bleach or change your teeth's color: they can only remove surface stains by gently abrading the enamel.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. Most whitening toothpaste includes hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent used in store-bought products and professional treatments. These products change the color of your teeth rather than simply removing surface stains as other products do. The concentration of hydrogen peroxide in whitening toothpaste is less than the amount you would find in single-use products. However, hydrogen peroxide can provide noticeable results over a more extended period of use.
  • Carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is essentially a bleaching agent that breaks down into other compounds like hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is also a widespread whitening ingredient that you can find in whitening gels and trays too.

Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance for products that have been approved by the American Dental Association.

Is It Safe to Use Whitening Toothpaste Every Day?

Read the instructions on your toothpaste. If your toothpaste instructs daily use for best results, then you can use them daily. If you experience increased tooth sensitivity, you can alternate use with regular toothpaste or find a whitening toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

Protecting Your Enamel After Whitening

Since surface stain removal toothpaste abrades your enamel, you should try to fortify your enamel after whitening. There are several enamel-strengthening or enamel-protecting toothpaste options. By keeping your enamel healthy, you can prevent surface stains from coming back. You can speak with your dental hygienist for recommendations.

How to Use Whitening Toothpaste

The great thing about whitening toothpaste is that it also provides the benefits of regular toothpaste. Brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time will reduce your risk of cavities, freshen breath and keep your gums healthy.

Remember that the ADA recommends speaking with your dentist before using a whitening product, especially if you have crowns and fillings. If you already experience tooth sensitivity, your dental professional can recommend the right product for your needs.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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