How does teeth whitening work?

By Susan Dewhirst in Natural Products

Co-worker experts here in Maine

You never know what you’re going to learn when you’re volunteering beside a co-worker. During our recent annual company-wide volunteer day Scott (one of our Lab Supervisors) and I struck up a conversation while removing invasive species at a local park. Scott was eager to share his expertise about teeth whitening ingredients.

More than one way to whiten your teeth

There are variety of ways to tackle your teeth whitening goals. Usually the challenge is removing discolorations resulting from eating and drinking. If you love coffee, you may know what I am referring to! Annual or bi-annual dental cleaning is a help, but may not achieve the results you are looking for. Eliminating surface stains on a more regular basis can be done by brushing with an over-the-counter (OTC) whitening toothpaste, available at your local pharmacy or grocery store. If you want to actually change your original tooth color there may be treatments available at your dentist’s office, custom trays that fit in your mouth, whitening gels applied with a brush or whitening strips. Typically these treatments entail bleaching your teeth using carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.

The natural whitening solution

If bringing back the natural color of your teeth is your goal, you can accomplish that by regular brushing with a whitening toothpaste such as Tom’s of Maine Natural Luminous White Toothpaste containing naturally-derived silica.


Silica is from sand, mini-rocks or quartz. It’s one of the most common compounds found in the earth’s crust… it’s literally everywhere! There are many different grades of hydrated silica, the ingredient found in toothpaste, with the difference in grades based on the size of their particles. The very fine basically powder-like silicas are often used as thickening agents in toothpaste to create a nice consistency. That’s why when you’re reading your toothpaste label silica may be listed even when it’s not a whitening product! Small particle silica are typically used for cleaning properties.

Whitening by brushing

How does silica whiten teeth naturally?

Hydrated silica is the type of stain remover most often used in toothpastes to whiten teeth naturally. The key with hydrated silicas of all grades is that the crystal structure of the silica is broken and bound with water molecules to make a white gelatinous substance. Hydrating the silica creates a smooth ‘gel’ that balances the tricky line of becoming just abrasive enough to remove stains but not so harsh as to harm tooth enamel. During brushing, hydrated silica safely removes surface stains caused by foods, wine, coffee, tea and soft drinks, helping to bring back teeth’s natural brightness.

Is Hydrated Silica safe?

Hydrated silica is a safe choice for the removal of surface stains. It’s also an ideal ingredient because it adds no discernible taste or odor to the end product. The hydrated silica Tom’s of Maine uses is milled to produce a slightly larger particle size making it an effective cleaner and stain remover. It is safe on enamel and does not cause sensitivity.


Have you tried any of our whitening toothpastes? Let us know what you think!

Simply White Sweet Mint Whitening Tooth gel 4.7ozWhole Care Gel Toothpaste (Peppermint)

Why It’s Good

Many people are looking for help to whiten and brighten their teeth, they may not know there are safe, effective ways to do that by selecting the right toothpaste. Using naturally sourced silica Tom's of Maine provides a variety of natural products that help achieve a whiter, natural smile in just a few weeks.