You’ve seen teeth whitening toothpaste at the store and in commercials, and maybe you’ve even got a tube of it at home. Do you know how it whitens your teeth, though? Our Pembroke, MA, dentist is here to teach you the science behind your toothpaste.
Our Pembroke, MA, Dentist Shares the Science of Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
First things first – to understand how toothpaste works, you need to know what makes your teeth change color. There are two separate (albeit linked) potential culprits.
Cause #1 – Pellicle Film
The first cause of discolored teeth is something called a “pellicle film” – a layer of food, drink, or smoke particles that covers the enamel of your tooth. Whatever color those food particles are will show up against your teeth.
According to our Pembroke dentist, any toothpaste worth its salt should be able to handle a pellicle film, even if it isn’t a full whitening toothpaste. In the same way that a rough sponge can scrape dried food off a dirty dish, you can polish the pellicle film off your teeth using the bristles of your toothbrush combined with the gritty cleaning particles in your toothpaste.
Cause #2 – Stained Enamel
The second cause of discolored teeth can be much trickier to combat. If your teeth are constantly subjected to a stained pellicle film, or if you don’t brush regularly to remove that film, the discolored particles can work their way into the enamel of your tooth. Since toothpaste and brushing won’t (and shouldn’t) rub away your tooth’s protective enamel, this means you can’t simple scrub away those discolored particles any more.
When discolored particles can’t be removed altogether, you must break apart their molecular structure. Once a molecule breaks down, it loses the structure that creates its color. This is where toothpaste with whitening chemicals enter the picture.
Learn More About Teeth Whitening from Our Pembroke, MA, Dentist
The most common whitening agent found in toothpaste is hydrogen peroxide. When hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with your teeth, its molecules react with the discolored particles in your tooth enamel, causing them to break down and bond with the peroxide instead.
The more hydrogen peroxide molecules there are, the more color you can strip away. Our Pembroke, MA, dentist has a warning for you, though: Don’t go pouring straight hydrogen peroxide into your mouth! High concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can lead to numerous unpleasant side effects, including sensitive teeth and gums and permanent damage to teeth – not to mention that the chemical can make you sick if enough of it is swallowed! This is why the amount of peroxide in whitening toothpastes is kept low – typically under 1% concentration.
What’s the Difference Between Whitening Toothpaste and Professional Teeth Whitening?
The only major difference between whitening toothpastes, at-home teeth whitening kits, and professional teeth whitening is the amount of hydrogen peroxide used on your teeth. Because of the significant risk of long-term side effects, the strongest whitening solutions should only ever be used under a doctor’s supervision. If you wish to know more about the risks and benefits of teeth whitening, feel free to call our dentist in Pembroke, MA.
The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to dentistry, feel free to contact Luxe Smile Dentistry and our Pembroke, MA, dentist by clicking here or by calling 781.319.0070.