Cosmetic Dentistry|Dental Care|Teeth Whitening

Do Whitening Toothpastes Really Work?

We have all seen the adverts on television promoting whitening toothpastes and how they claim to whiten your teeth in as little as 7 days but do they actually work?

Research shows that approximately 40% of us are unhappy with the colour of our teeth. We all want a brighter, whiter smile and Whitening toothpastes are an affordable option. Toothpastes can cost from as little as £4 whilst Professional Whitening systems can cost from £200. Although results from both systems differ greatly.

There are so many Whitening Toothpastes available all making different claims and promising great results. Some companies have celebrities endorsing their brand to encourage you to buy their product. Over the past few years a few companies have been made to withdraw their adverts and campaigns by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), for making exaggerated claims about the results you can gain from their products and making the adverts misleading.

How do they work?

Whitening toothpastes work by removing light staining on the surface of your teeth leaving a cleaner, whiter appearance. Teeth are naturally yellow in colour and these toothpastes will never give you the white look you wish to achieve. Professional systems would be needed to achieve that effect. Whitening toothpastes work by use of abrasion or chemicals. Many whitening toothpastes contain small amounts of abrasive minerals such as pumice. This makes the toothpaste gritty which when brushed over your teeth removes the stains. Some may even contain chemicals which can break down or dissolve the staining.

What causes staining?

Staining is caused from food and drinks such as red wine, tea, coffee and curry. Smoking can also severely stain your teeth. Your teeth may also appear darker because as we age the dentine in our teeth becomes dense and darkens, which then makes your teeth appear darker. Some staining will never be removed using toothpastes and general brushing. Professional cleaning by a dental hygienist will be needed to remove these stains.

What is the difference between Whitening Toothpastes and Professional Systems?

Whitening toothpastes are only designed to remove the stains on the enamel. There is not a strong enough percentage of chemical (usually about 0.01%) in the toothpaste to make a bigger, notable difference in colour to the teeth. The small chemical percentage is due to the chemical in the toothpaste coming into contact with everything in your mouth – the teeth, gums, tongue and soft tissues. You may even swallow some of the toothpaste. Therefore the product has to be safe for you to use and the small percentage ensures this. Anything higher it could become unsafe for your mouth.

The chemical in Professional Whitening Systems, usually carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide (new regulations state the maximum percentage is 6%); penetrates into the dentine making your teeth whiter from within the teeth. The higher percentage is allowed as custom made trays allow the product to only come into contact with the front surfaces of the teeth. This system is also overseen by a professional.

Are whitening toothpastes safe?

Providing you choose a reputable brand of toothpaste they are relatively safe. Not all Whitening toothpastes are designed to be used as your everyday toothpaste and used over a long period of time they can start to damage and wear away the enamel. As the dentine becomes exposed your teeth can become sensitive. It can also affect your gums too.

Can I get better results buying a whitening toothpaste from the internet rather than a supermarket?

Never buy whitening products from the internet. You might be able to buy stronger solutions with a higher peroxide percentage but you cannot be sure what is in the product. We have had patients come to us reporting of chemical burns to their lips and gums. They can even cause irreparable damage to the enamel on the teeth.


If you are considering whitening your teeth, its best to discuss this with your dentist first. You may decide that having Teeth Whitening carried out by a dental professional be the better option for you. After all it is the safest and healthiest option for your teeth and gums. It may be a little more expensive but at least you know that the product will work, you will see results and the process will be overseen by a professional.

Perfect Smile Spa is a well-established dental practice in Essex. We carry out Cosmetic Dentistry as well as General Dentistry on a daily basis and our Cosmetic Dentist, Dr Jas Sagoo, has placed hundreds of Porcelain Veneers and Crowns. No matter how big or small your treatment is, we can help you. The practice is easily accessible by car, bus and train with numerous car parks situated around us.

This post is by Dr Jas Sagoo who is the principle dentist in Essex at Perfect Smile Spa.Do Whitening Toothpastes Really Work? was last modified: July 2nd, 2018 by Dr Jas Sagoo