Do Toothpaste Whiteners Work?

Do Toothpaste Whiteners Work?

Whitening toothpastes are often marketed as a fast and effective way to whiten your teeth at home at a fraction of the cost of professional whitening treatment. Proving incredibly popular, whitening toothpastes have grown to become one of the most popular cosmetic products and form a large percentage of all types of toothpastes sold. While tooth whitening can indeed help the appearance of discolouring, due to smoking or drinking coffee for example, it’s often incorrectly marketed as a cure-all way to change your discoloured teeth to a dazzling shade of white.

So the question is, how well does tooth whitening work? Can it really improve the appearance of my teeth?

First we need to examine how whitening toothpaste works in changing the colour of your teeth.

How whitening toothpaste works

Whitening toothpaste works on the upper layer of the enamel, called the extrinsic layer.

This layer of the tooth accumulates all the substances that enter your mouth, such as food and drinks. These substances form a layer over the exterior of the tooth, and if the substance contains a staining agent then this will absorb into the enamel and change the appearance of the tooth.

As this is no longer on the very surface of the tooth, simply brushing the tooth won’t remove the staining.

Whitening Toothpastes typically contain an abrasive substance to scrub the teeth, and often chemicals to help dissolve or break down the stain on the tooth. Chemicals such as silica, sodium lauryl sulphate, and enzymes such as citric acid can commonly be found. These chemicals will help to remove the discolouration.

Some whitening toothpastes also contain Blue Covarine. This substance sticks to the surface of the teeth and gives the appearance of a significantly whiter colour. Toothpastes containing this can also help improve the appearance of the teeth in a much shorter space of time, taking affect in a space of days rather than weeks.

Effectiveness of Whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste has been proven to be very effective in several ways.
Many toothpastes can significantly reduce the appearance of surface stains as a result of substances such as coffee, nicotine, and certain foods. If used regularly over a long period of time, you will find that it can significantly improve the whiteness of your teeth and help build a barrier against staining.

As whitening toothpaste works on the upper layer of the tooth, it won’t be affective against deep staining and discolouring. In this case, professional whitening with a peroxide-containing agent would be necessary.

To get the most out of whitening toothpastes, it’s important to regularly brush with the same toothpaste twice a day. Neglecting to brush your teeth will prevent the toothpaste from removing the stains properly and the difference to the colour of your teeth will not be as apparent. It’s also vital to refrain from any habits which might be affecting the colour of your teeth, such as smoking or drinking coffee.

Using a whitening toothpaste can be an inexpensive and convenient way of gradually removing the stains from your teeth, however the effects won’t be visible instantly and a regular schedule of brushing must be maintained for the effects to last.

As whitening toothpastes don’t usually contain peroxide, their effectiveness is limited. The whitening effect of the toothpaste won’t be immediately visible and can take weeks until there is a visible improvement.


  • Whitening toothpastes are usually no more expensive than regular types of toothpaste, so using it regularly won’t cost you a fortune.
  • Over time using whitening toothpaste will help shield your teeth from any further staining.


  • When using whitening toothpastes, it can take some time before the benefits are apparent. This can be a case of weeks or months.
  • The whitening effect will not be as obvious as professional bleaching treatments.