Does Whitening Toothpaste Damage Enamel?

By Maureen Wise in Natural Products

Are your teeth less than pearly? Maybe they're even a tad yellow or gray. If you're looking to get your teeth shiny again, there are many products on the market to help you on your journey to pearly whites. Still, you want to make sure you're making the right choice for your oral health. Does whitening toothpaste damage enamel? Do teeth whitening strips damage enamel? Knowing how to effectively whiten your teeth in a way that you can feel good about is key.

The Basics of White, Healthy Teeth

First, make sure that you visit your dentist twice a year to ensure that your overall oral health is in tip-top shape. Keeping your teeth in good health will help to ensure that they don't turn gray because of cavities or rot. Your dentist will recommend that you brush twice a day and floss daily. Also, be sure to change your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles look worn. Additionally, your dentist and hygienist will recommend avoiding or limiting products that stain teeth, such as red wine, coffee, black tea, smoking, and other nicotine products. If you continue to consume these staining substances, swish your mouth out with water soon after. Your dentist can also perform teeth whitening procedures at their office. These are more expensive than those you perform at home but are often more effective.

Over the Counter Teeth Whitening

There are many products on the market that can help whiten teeth. These include whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, and trays of whitening gel. There are as many variations out there as there are dental hygiene brands. These products use ingredients such as activated charcoal, blue covarine, carbamide peroxide, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. Usually, these ingredients are used to bleach the teeth. Blue covarine remains on your teeth to make them appear whiter.

While whitening gels and strips typically must be worn anywhere from twenty minutes to overnight while you sleep, whitening toothpaste takes less commitment, since you're already brushing your teeth to begin with. This makes it a common and convenient option.

But does whitening toothpaste damage enamel? Do teeth whitening strips damage enamel? Both the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic report that these at-home teeth whitening products are safe to use. They do encourage you to listen to your body, however. If your gums or teeth become irritated, stop using the product, and be sure that you use it exactly as it states in the instructions. Whatever you choose, talk to your dentist about your new teeth whitening routine and be sure to look for the American Dental Association seal of approval on the packaging.

six neutral colored toothbrushes lined up in a row

At-Home Whitening Methods

If you're looking for DIY teeth whitening methods, there are home remedies that you can try. Not all of them may work for everyone—and keep in mind that, unlike over-the-counter products and professional in-office bleaching, they haven't been thoroughly lab tested. That said, some people swear by these three methods. Just be sure to use them to enhance—not replace—your usual oral care routine.

Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is a well-known stain remover and is regularly used as a natural cleaner and odor absorber everywhere from the kitchen to the bathroom. Many whitening toothpastes also use baking soda as an active ingredient. A literature review study from ScienceDirect found that baking soda-based products are safe and effective at removing stains on the teeth. At home, you can brush your teeth with a paste made from equal parts water and baking soda to help reduce stains. Baking soda is gritty, so make sure to mix well and brush gently to avoid damaging your enamel.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a longtime medicine cabinet staple that is used to clean wounds and kill bacteria. Many whitening products use a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient. In fact, whitening toothpastes that use hydrogen peroxide were shown to work better than other whitening toothpastes, according to a recent BCM Oral Health study. To try whitening with hydrogen peroxide at home, mix two tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide (use the 3 percent concentration found in most drug stores). Simply swish the liquid in your mouth for about a minute a few times a week.

Eat More Fruit

Some say that substances such as malic acid and bromelain found in strawberries, pineapple, and apples can help your teeth become whiter. Eating extra fruit has very few downsides, and if it can help whiten your teeth, why not give it a go? While eating plenty of fruit may be beneficial for your dental and overall health, the American Dental Association explains that scrubbing your teeth with fruits isn't a good idea, as the acid can wear away enamel.

Two women hugging and smiling on the street

As with any product, discontinue use if your gums or teeth feel sensitive after trying any of these at-home whitening methods.

Looking for more DIY solutions? Check out this article on making your own bathroom cleaner for a sparkling clean home without relying on harsh ingredients.

For more ideas for a natural dental health care routine, check out our DIY Naturally board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

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Why It's Good

Taking care of your dental health has been proven to keep the rest of your body healthier as well!