Why Don’t Whitening Toothpastes Actually Whiten?

If the fact that whitening toothpaste doesn’t work surprises you, let’s clarify: Whitening toothpastes work as toothpaste, but brushing with whitening toothpaste can not remove deep stains. Whitening toothpaste has been around for a while, but has no one noticed that “whitening” toothpaste doesn’t really change the shade of your smile? Understanding the science of teeth whitening helps explain why whitening toothpastes don’t whiten.

Your Teeth’s Three Layers

Understanding how whitening works can be explained by the three layers of that make your tooth color: one, the inner dentin layer; two, the outer enamel layer; and three, the pellicle. Pellicle is the name of the outer layer that forms a film over your teeth (we’re not talking about the sweaters on your teeth that form when you haven’t brushed your teeth for a while, that’s straight up plaque). The layer on your teeth called pellicle is formed seconds after you brush and provides a certain level of protection to your teeth from food, bacteria, and plaque.

What Does”Whitening” Toothpaste Do?

When you brush with “whitening” toothpaste, as with any toothpaste, all the toothpaste and toothbrush does is scrub away the pellicle or surface layer covering your teeth. Yes, your teeth will look whiter for the first few hours after you brush because pellicle does tint your teeth to some extent and will have to reform during that time, but no deep or lasting whitening occurs when you use “whitening” toothpaste. In other words, you get the same result using whitening toothpaste or regular toothpaste or no toothpaste at all because the brushing action is what removes the pellicle layer from your teeth.

How Deep Stains Form

We all know that neglecting to brush your teeth is a bad idea, and when you consider the effect that not brushing has on the color of your teeth you will be even more committed to brushing. Your teeth become more yellow when you don’t brush because the outer layer pellicle, that surface film, starts to seep into your enamel (which is porous and absorbs the yellow tint of pellicle). This means that deep stains will never disappear with the use of a whitening toothpaste or any toothpaste–you need an agent strong enough to penetrate the enamel and lift deep stains.

How Can I Remove Deep Stains?

Your dentist can recommend the safest and strongest whitening treatments what will lift deep stains permanently. Whitening strips and whitening gels actually seep into the enamel and cause an oxidation reaction to break down deep stains. If you have ever felt the funny foaminess of whitening gels, that’s the oxidation.

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