The allure of whiter teeth
I’ve never whitened my teeth, and usually I’m happy with that. But sometimes I get the niggling idea that I would look younger and more sparkling if only my teeth were whiter. My life would be so much better!
Not true, of course, but we all have those unhelpful thoughts now and then, don’t we?
Having your teeth whitened professionally, by a dentist, is the safest way to go and offers the best result. However, it can be expensive.
There are many over-the-counter teeth bleaching sets available for a fraction of the cost—although still pricey, in my opinion, for a little bit of bleach—but they can result in uneven bleaching, or can be done too frequently for optimal oral health.
The downside of over-bleaching includes thinning of the enamel (ever seen someone with bluish teeth?), increased tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.
Related post: How NOT to whiten your teeth
I already have sensitive teeth, which is one reason why I’ve always said no to having my teeth whitened.
But I was thinking recently about switching from my usual toothpaste (Crest Regular paste) to one that advertises whitening. I wondered: Do whitening toothpastes work? If so, which one is best?
My research was eye-opening. 😯
Is your toothpaste too abrasive?
What I found out is that many popular toothpastes—not just the advertised whitening toothpastes—have a very high abrasiveness index. Listed in the ingredients as “hydrated silica” (basically a form of sand), it’s what helps give most toothpastes their texture and cleaning prowess.
Toothpastes marketed as “whitening” have higher levels of hydrated silica, but unfortunately the labels don’t tell you exactly how high or how abrasive the toothpaste actually is.
I found a blog by a dentist that had a helpful list of many common toothpaste brands and their Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) scores.
A score of 100-150 is considered highly abrasive. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using a toothpaste with an RDA less than 200; interestingly, the American Dental Association (ADA) puts the upper limited as high as 250.
But the dentist who wrote the blog post advises keeping your toothpaste’s RDA under 100. Higher RDAs might sand away stains, but can also cause sensitive teeth, enamel erosion and gum recession.
Where does your toothpaste fall on the scale? Here’s a list of some popular toothpastes and their RDAs.
|Arm & Hammer Dental Care||35|
|Sensodyne Extra Whitening||104|
|Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel||117|
|Crest MultiCare Whitening||144|
|Colgate Baking Soda Whitening||145|
|Colgate Tartar Control||165|
|Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control Whitening||200|
I was surprised to see baking soda scored so low. And I was glad to see my boring and inexpensive toothpaste, Crest Regular, scored a 95. I might not be getting the whitest teeth, but at least I’m not damaging them, either, and in the long run that’s more important and saves money!