Most people take a pride in their appearance, for their own personal satisfaction and also because they know that appearances count for a lot in this day and age. Of course, it’s your face which is constantly on show, and nothing improves your facial appearance more than a gleaming white smile.
It’s no wonder then that manufacturers (and advertisers) seek to exploit this desire by offering and promoting “whitening” toothpastes which many people buy, even though they often cost more than the standard types.
People sometimes ask their dentist what is the best whitening toothpaste so it’s worth noting a few facts about the whole business of “teeth whitening”.
Advertising Claims – Too Good To Be True?
Our teeth tend to naturally darken with age and also due to the effects of smoking and consuming certain foods and drinks. Tea, coffee, and red wine are notorious for causing tooth discoloration, and some of this is intrinsic due to stains permeating into the tooth enamel, whilst a fair proportion is extrinsic, i.e. external and superficial.
It is the external discoloration that whitening toothpastes mainly target and they do this by being generally slightly more abrasive than ordinary pastes, so that they remove stains more readily. Some also contain chemicals which help to break down the stains on teeth surfaces so that they are easier to remove with the toothbrush.
However this is not true whitening in the sense that it will not lighten the inherent color or shade of your teeth.
Just as with washing powders, advertisers tend to go somewhat overboard with claims for their products. The truth is that no paste will whiten your teeth beyond their natural color by very much at all, since to do this requires a bleaching agent and very little of this is allowed in toothpaste formulations – in order to keep them safe from causing harm.
If you want that really white Hollywood smile it’s best to see your dentist for professional bleaching treatment.
The effect of “whitening” toothpastes is rather to restore teeth to their natural color by removing surface stains and thus brightening up their appearance. This can still make an appreciable difference to how your teeth appear on a daily basis, however.
Common ingredients in whitening toothpastes:
- Hydrogen or carbamide peroxide which is a bleaching agent – but only present in very small amounts and generally it wouldn’t be in contact with the teeth for long enough to have an appreciable effect.
- Sodium Bicarbonate or baking soda, which is a weak bleaching agent and can also have a mild abrasive action.
- Hydrated Silica which is an abrasive and polishing agent.
- Fluoride in some form to help strengthen tooth enamel.
These toothpastes can make your smile look whiter than it would otherwise be, by removing surface stains which are too stubborn for ordinary toothpaste. The downside is that it can be more abrasive and inclined to wear away enamel, unless used with the correct kind of brushing strokes which your dentist can show you.
As a result of the increased abrasiveness, you may also find that these cause increased sensitivity.
In addition, some whitening pastes contain chemicals which enhance the breakdown of surface discolorations in plaque and thus help brighten the teeth. Some may even contain the chemical blue covarine which sticks to dental surfaces and creates the optical illusion of greater whiteness.
Here are some of the more popular brands of whitening toothpaste. These selected products all rate highly in terms of consumer reports. It’s impossible to recommend one overall best toothpaste for whitening your teeth, as what is superior is subjective and will differ based on each individual’s needs.
Try a few out if you need to – but just don’t expect any miracles from these pastes!
Photographs from Amazon – Click images for further reviews
Aquafresh Extreme Clean Deep Action Mint Blast
Colgate Optic White
Crest 3D White Vivid
Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening
Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening
This by no means an exhaustive list of available products, but merely some of the most well-known. Most are a similar mix of peroxide and baking soda.
If you’re considering trying out a new paste, it’s a good idea to check for a seal of approval from a reputable dental organization such as the American Dental Association. This would suggest that the toothpaste is effective and yet not too abrasive for daily use.
The best teeth whitening toothpaste is one which has all the ingredients of a normal toothpaste to clean your teeth, freshen the breath, and discourage plaque plus one or more proven ingredients to help brighen the teeth.
There are a number of reasonably effective brands and it is easy to compare reviews (click the above images) on the internet from people who have used them to get an idea of which might best suit you.