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  • Dr. Josh Rubin

Ask the dentist: Should I use whitening toothpaste?

Ask the dentist: Should I use whitening toothpaste?

As we age, our teeth tend to yellow and stain, and many people turn to whitening toothpastes to restore their youthful pearly whites. But do these toothpastes really work? The answer is… very minimally, and they may even cause damage when used too aggressively. Most whitening toothpastes contain an abrasive, which literally scrubs stains and discolorations off the surface of the teeth. However, when used regularly, these pastes can also wear away the enamel, which protects the teeth from further stains. As one 2009 study concluded, “Excessive or long term use of abrasive toothpastes will cause dental abrasion, thinning of the enamel layer and slowly darkening the appearance of the tooth as the dentin layer becomes more noticeable.”

But what if the toothpaste is not used excessively? Is there any benefit to normal home usage? Unfortunately, no. Another 2005 study showed no evidence of superiority for whitening toothpaste after normal home usage.” Other, more informal studies, have concurred; whitening toothpaste don’t actually work better than regular toothpaste.

That said, there are steps you can take to whiten your teeth. Regular cleanings can help, and professional bleaching treatments (by a certified dentist) are effective. Other at-home treatment, such as bleaching strips, have garnered better results than the toothpastes, but consumers should do their own research as to safety and efficacy.

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