Health and Fitness                    

Prevention is the best cure

By: Dr. ShehbazSaleem Khan

C-Ortho, C-Implant
Member Amercian Dental Association 
Dental Aesthetics – F-10 Markaz, Islamabad. 

Good news is that whitening toothpastes can work, and for the most part they do with a few limitations. The issue is how well they work and whether or not they're really worth the money.

As to how they work, this varies from toothpaste to toothpaste. The important thing though is that all of them are only cleaning slight stains from the surface of the teeth which will brighten your teeth more than they whiten them, which is a temporary solution at best.

To an extent, all toothpastes do this, but those marked “whitening” generally contain substances that are a little more effective in specifically removing surface stains. For instance many include Abrasives like carbamid peroxide and sodium lauryl sulphate. Others have enzymes such as papain, citric acid, sodium tripolyphosphate, triclosan and more. Bromelain and malic acid, found in pineapples and apples too are commonly included.

Blue covarine is a substance which can bind to the surface of the teeth, which helps lessen the appearance of yellowing almost immediately. Note that this is effectively an optical illusion, rather than making any real change to your teeth. But if it's an aesthetic effect you're going for then this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Smarter toothpastes contain ingredients that are designed to prevent future staining – such as polyvinylpyrrolidone. Prevention is the best cure… They all usually contain the same substances such as fluoride that are found in other toothpastes in order to protect against tooth decay and other problems.

About their effectiveness and any side effects, toothpastes work by using slightly acidic substances to melt away surface stains, and in the case of blue covarine, might also be useful for neutralising some of the yellowness. This is a moderate effect that may be useful for some people, but is it good for you?

Unfortunately the answer is 'not entirely'. Over time you see, abrasive toothpastes can also degrade your enamel. This is the protective outer layer of your tooth which gives it its natural shine. Underneath the layer of enamel is dentine which is porous and this is one of the things that can make teeth sensitive.

So with all that in mind… are whitening toothpastes really worthwhile? Well, if you're looking to reduce the appearance of some surface stains then they may be somewhat effective by gently dissolving those stains and potentially fixing discoloration in the short term. If you've noticed that your teeth have yellowed over time and you want to do something about it, then using them for a week may help and won't hurt. (Though eating some apples during the day might be just as effective).

On the other hand, tooth whitening toothpastes aren't able to change the natural color of your teeth, and they can't fix stains that go deeper than the surface… so they aren't a 'magic fix' by any means. For more serious stains you'll need to see your dentist.

Whitening toothpastes can slightly damage your enamel over time – which is a lot worse than having comparatively darker looking teeth – it probably isn't advisable to use them for the long haul.

For reference:

If you're not satisfied with the effect of whitening toothpaste, ask your dentist about other tooth whitening options — such as over-the-counter or professional bleaching products.


It is true that whitening toothpastes do lighten your teeth, but the effect might not be as much as you hope. In fact the concentration of carbamide peroxide in such whitening toothpastes is so little that you can not expect them to do much for betterment of appearance of your teeth. However, they are a great way to preserve your whiter smile which you have acquired from dental bleaching.

Thank you.

Dr. ShehbazSaleem Khan

C-Ortho, C-Implant
Member Amercian Dental Association
Dental Aesthetics – F-10 Markaz, Islamabad. 

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