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Q: How do whitening toothpastes work, and how effective are they?

Posted March 26, 2014 in Advice Column, Bondurant

A: Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. As we age the yellow portion of the tooth becomes more prominent, which causes our teeth to appear more yellow. For those of you relying on toothpaste to whiten your teeth, you can do better. The commercials and advertisements claiming toothpaste alone can whiten your teeth are twisting the truth. All toothpastes help remove surface stains with abrasive components and other ingredients. Some whitening toothpastes contain polishing or chemical agents that aid in surface stain removal. Whitening toothpastes do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide which serve as the active bleaching ingredient. The two factors that influence how fast your teeth whiten and how much your teeth whiten are the amount of time the bleach is in contact with your teeth and the bleaching agent concentration percentage. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your teeth by one shade since your teeth appear whiter due to surface stain removal. Dental office whitening can brighten your smile by three to eight shades depending on the whitening system used.

Information provided by Dr. Steven Neville, Bondurant Family Dentistry, 100 Second St. N.E., Bondurant, 515-967-4002.

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