This radio interview of Dr Daylene Leong, Dental Specialist in Periodontics, first aired on Gold 90.5FM (Homestretch with Jamie Yeo). We have reproduced it for those of you who missed it when it was aired.
Q: Do whitening toothpaste really work?
A: Much publicity has been given to whitening toothpastes and although there are some studies with positive claims, their effectiveness may not always meet your expectations.
This is because whitening toothpastes creates a polishing effect rather than changing the tooth’s natural colour. They also cannot penetrate deeper to lighten stains that are beneath the tooth’s surface.
The colour of our teeth is affected by two things: one, the colour of our enamel, which is the translucent top layer of our teeth and; two, our dentine, which is the inner layer that forms the main body of our tooth.
When we use whitening toothpastes, there are special abrasives and chemicals in it that help remove the superficial stains found on the tooth enamel such as those caused by drinking coffee, tea or smoking.
However, that only affects our tooth’s colour partially and it cannot change the natural colour of the teeth. So to achieve a significant change in tooth colour, you need to change the colour of one’s dentine and that can be done only through professional tooth whitening products that contain peroxide.
Moreover, using whitening toothpastes over long periods of time may increase the risk of teeth sensitivity, particularly in patients with receded gums and exposed root surfaces, due to the presence of the abrasives in the toothpaste. Hence, for patients who already have sensitivity issues, we recommend that you use a whitening toothpaste sparingly.