Can I really whiten my teeth using whitening toothpaste or whitening mouthwash?

Q: Can I really whiten my teeth using whitening toothpaste or whitening mouthwash?

A: Unless you are a smoker or drink a lot of tea or coffee, you probably won't notice a substantial improvement in the color of your teeth by using these products. Smoking and drinking certain drinks can leave stains on your teeth especially between the teeth. 

These are usually difficult to remove with normal dental hygiene products. Whitening toothpaste simply contains more coarse abrasives than standard toothpaste. This helps in scrubbing off the stains just like using Ajax powder to scrub a white porcelain sink. The actual color of the porcelain doesn't change, but doesn't it look brighter when it's cleaned?

Sometimes there is peroxide in these products, which is we dentists use to "bleach" teeth, but the concentration is too low to effectively whiten your teeth. The purpose of the peroxide is more as an antimicrobial disinfectant. Usually the only noticeable result from using these products, as my patients have reported, is temperature sensitivity on your teeth. The best way to get your teeth brighter is by using proven over-the-counter products like "whitening strips" or having them whitened professionally. 

Blake Rossell