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The number of teeth whitening options available to patients just seems to grow and grow. With so many products and treatments available, it’s hard to know which are the most effective. The most accessible option is whitening toothpaste, but how does this enhanced version of an everyday product stack up against the best teeth whitening products?

Teeth get stains and change color for various reasons. Bad habits like smoking and eating and drinking staining foods like tea, coffee and wine can all lead to surface stains. Though they look smooth, teeth actually have microscopic “pores” that can hold onto the staining compounds in these foods, causing them to brown or yellow over time. Some of these stains can be deeper and more stubborn than others.

All toothpaste work by using a mild abrasive. The most common abrasive in toothpaste is baking soda or something similar. The abrasives in toothpaste are intended to help remove plaque and debris. Whitening toothpaste goes one step further by using a stronger abrasive to remove microscopic layers of tooth enamel, thereby removing the stains on the enamel.

If this sounds like it can be rough on your tooth enamel, you’re right. When used regularly, whitening toothpaste can remove surface stains. However, because they’re tougher than normal toothpaste, they aren’t recommended for people who already have weak enamel or sensitive teeth. If you start to experience tooth sensitivity to hot or cold after using a whitening toothpaste, we advise that you stop using it and switch to a regular toothpaste that isn’t labelled “whitening” or ask us about using a toothpaste intended for sensitive teeth or weak enamel.

In contrast to a whitening toothpaste that removes enamel, teeth whitening products such as over-the-counter strips or custom kits that we provide, work entirely differently. Rather than remove tooth structure, these products use chemicals like hydrogen peroxide to penetrate those “pores” in your tooth enamel and dissolve tooth stain compounds. While teeth bleaching can cause sensitivity in some people just like whitening toothpaste, it is much more effective at whitening teeth.

With whitening toothpaste, you can only expect to whiten your teeth by one shade at most. With professional teeth whitening and whitening kits, you can expect three or more shades of lightening, depending on how discolored your teeth are, to begin with. If you’re interested in whitening your teeth, please ask us for a recommendation on the best products for you.