Why Teeth Whitening Toothpaste Isn’t Making Your Teeth Any Whiter

Why Teeth Whitening Toothpaste Isn’t Making Your Teeth Any Whiter

Whitening Toothpaste Not Working
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Many people buy so-called “Teeth Whitening” toothpaste hoping to get whiter teeth.  For many people, these toothpastes do not provide whiter teeth.  Is this a form of false advertising?  Actually, it’s not.

ToothpasteThe confusion lies in the definition of teeth whiteningTeeth whitening in its strictest sense means to whiten the teeth to their natural shade.  Teeth bleaching, on the other hand means to whiten your teeth beyond their natural shade.

The reason there is so much confusion is because the phrase teeth bleaching isn’t very attractive.  So, companies that offer teeth bleaching, have started to refer to it as teeth whitening to make it more attractive to the average consumer.

In order for a toothpaste, mouthwash, or gum to be certified by the ADA as tooth whitening, it simply has to be able to remove surface stains off of your teeth.

How Teeth Get Stained

When our permanent teeth come in, they are a shiny white color.  However, as we grow older (and eat lots of teeth-staining foods), our teeth get more and more yellowish-brown.  Teeth Whitening toothpaste can remove tobacco stains, coffee stains, and other stains that we get as we go through our everyday lives.

Unfortunately, tooth whitening toothpastes can only return our teeth back to their original color. The toothpaste contains very gentle abrasives that rub against the stain and gradually remove it.

Why Teeth Whitening Toothpaste May Not Whiten Your Teeth

If you don’t drink coffee much or chew tobacco, there’s a good chance that your teeth aren’t stained at all.  In this case, if you use tooth whitening toothpaste, you probably won’t notice a difference in how white your teeth are.

Also, in the last ten years, it seems that all toothpastes are “teeth whitening”.  Chance are, you’ve already been brushing with “tooth whitening” toothpaste.  Continuing to brush with “tooth whitening” toothpaste isn’t going to make your teeth any whiter since you’ve already removed the stains with previous tubes of “teeth whitening” toothpaste.

How to Whiten Your Teeth

If you truly want whiter teeth, you will probably want to use a form of teeth bleaching.  Teeth bleaching is designed to whiten your teeth beyond their natural shade.

You should talk to your dentist about teeth whitening options such as in-office gels, Zoom teeth whitening, and take-home teeth whitening gels.

Have you been trying to get your teeth white with toothpaste?  Let us know in the comments.


  1. Thank you! I have always wondered about this. It seems like I keep buyign whitening toothpastes, but my teeth do not ever get whiter. I think I might try some of the whitening strips soon.

    • Good luck getting whiter teeth, Katie. Some of the more effective methods involve visiting your dentist for a custom whitening tray or having your dentist use a light with bleach to get your teeth really white. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Great articles….! thanks!
    My teenage daughter uses baking soda on her teeth to whiten them. Is that safe for your teeth?

    • Hi Ellen – The main thing to watch out for with baking soda is the abrasive effect it has on your teeth. It helps remove stains basically by working like sandpaper – it removes an extremely thin layer of enamel. If your daughter uses it every day, she could end up wearing away a lot of her enamel. If it’s every once in a while, then it’s probably not a huge deal.

      I hope that helps, Ellen – Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!

  3. I have heard that tooth whitening tooth paste and whitening strips contain silica particles that just NOT only remove stains from your teeth but also erode away part of your enamel with it, by the time it will make you enamel thin and weak.Is it true??I have seen people talking about the same thing regarding home remedies e.g baking soda ,strawberries and other stuff. Secondly I have also seen a lot of people complaining of teeth sensitivity AFTER bleaching.And some of the doctors also prefer not to bleach unless we don’t have any other option LEFT except bleaching.By the way good job I like your site.

    • Hi Aali – With baking soda and other home remedies, the method of teeth whitening is usually by using abrasives that do remove a thin layer of enamel and basically “sand away” stains.

      On the other hand, bleaching simply uses oxygen to whiten the tooth. It does not structurally damage the tooth. It can cause tooth sensitivity, which you can read more about in this article: Side Effects of Bleaching Your Teeth.

      I hope that helps – Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your kind words and your comment, Aali!

  4. Some good info re whitening teeth in general. But how do you whiten two individual teeth that have darkened when all other teeth are absolutely fine and white?

  5. Great article! I’ve heard hydrogen peroxide works to whiten teeth as well. Is that a safer alternative than whitening strips?

  6. Good article! I always wondered why these toothpastes didn’t actually “whiten” peoples teeth.
    But a question about bleaching your teeth. I heard it weakens your teeth and the enamel?
    Is this true? My mum got one of the take-home bleach kits and I always thought they were bad for your teeth.

    I love your website also, I stumbled across it looking for information on flossing mistakes.

  7. Thanks for spelling it out! I use a whitening toothpaste and I when people say my teeth are white, but not “bleach white” I tell people that a whitening toothpaste can only bring your teeth to a bone white or pale cream shade, because that is the natural color of teeth. But to get them paper-white you have to bleach. Problem is, paper-white teeth look phony. I sometimes think people have false teeth only to find out they were bleached.

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