The stand-up comedian, actor, screenwriter and producer, Rodney Dangerfield, was quoted saying, “I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. He told me to wear a brown tie.” Fortunately, there is something you can do about yellow teeth as brown ties are not on trend! The easiest, simplest and most affordable solution is to start with a whitening toothpaste, which has been gaining quite a bit of industry hype.
Over time, the enamel on your teeth forms tiny cracks, scratches or openings which are a food particle magnet and result in the build-up of stains. Depending on the severity of the discolouration on your teeth (and the cause), there is a range of whitening toothpaste options on the market for you to choose from.
Although professional whitening by a dentist will guarantee you a super-white sparkling smile, it does come with a hefty price tag. As a more cost-effective product compared to in-office treatments, a whitening toothpaste - that does what it says on the box - will include specific ingredients that are known for their efficacy in removing superficial stains.
What makes a whitening toothpaste work?
Knowing a little bit about the active and inactive ingredients added to whitening toothpastes will help you make an informed decision when faced with the array on the shelf.
- Hydrogen peroxide - with a long-standing reputation as a disinfectant and bleaching agent - is an obvious active ingredient to promise a dazzling smile. Higher concentrations, however (that are only safe to be administered by your dentist), will speed up the whitening process. So a toothpaste with a lower concentration will take longer to do the job of dissolving stains but it does come at a fraction of the cost.
- Water-based carbamide peroxide whitening toothpaste (in a concentration of 16 % and 35%) actually breaks down into two components - hydrogen peroxide + urea. A clinical efficacy and safety study showed remarkable bleaching effects.
- Micro-pulverized sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda/bicarbonate of soda) is a light abrasive with natural whitening properties; effective in removing superficial tooth discolouration and yellowing.
- Hydrated silica is the most popular ingredient in whitening toothpaste to lighten and polish teeth naturally by removing surface stains
- Charcoal (aka activated carbon) will have you doing a double take, as it is counterintuitive. But this is where a little ‘black magic’ comes into play. In a whitening toothpaste, the carbon enzymes absorb the tiny particles from highly-pigmented foods (tomatoes, paprika and curry powder), coffee and red wine, and smoking that cause superficial staining in your teeth.
With any whitening toothpaste, do not expect to see visible results in a few days. For maximum effect, a whitening toothpaste should be used twice a day for several weeks as it takes time for the abrasives and chemicals in the toothpaste to polish the teeth and break down the stains.
If you have braces, it is also recommended that you first consult with your dentist or orthodontist, as whitening toothpastes containing abrasive ingredients could soften the glue of the brackets.
Keep smiling all the way to Smile Shop
Founded by Dentist, Carl Silk, Smile Shop is South Africa’s first online store dedicated to bringing you a premium range of brands and carefully selected home dental care products; at the click of a button.
From electric toothbrushes and air flossers to tooth whitening products and interdental brushes as well as all dental accessories in between, Smile Shop is your convenient online dental aisle.