All About Whitening Toothpastes

Teeth Whitening 

Once considered a luxury due to their relatively high price, teeth whitening toothpastes are now a standard part of oral care for lots of Americans. From the high-priced Rembrandt to Crest to Colgate-all major toothpaste brands now offer multiple versions of a whitening formulation. It’s a big business – and destined for continued growth – even if the whitening results are hard to prove.

But what is it that turns a regular toothpaste formula into a teeth whitening toothpaste? It’s two main ingredients actually-a whitening agent like carbamide peroxide or sodium tripolyphospate PLUS an abrasive agent like silica (or calcium carbonate or dicalcium phosphate). And while the whitening agent usually gets all the credit, it’s actually the tiny bits of silica that do most of the work.

Whitening agents, like carbamide peroxide, typically lighten teeth based on a combination of concentration strength and wear-time. But since the concentration of whitening agents in toothpastes is very low – and you only spend a few seconds or minutes each day brushing, the bleach isn’t in contact with your teeth long enough to cause a reaction.

Abrasiveness is what actually removes surface stains from teeth – and the silica-like substances in whitening toothpastes create the abrasive action. Now, in truth, all toothpastes remove surface stains – it’s just that teeth whitening toothpastes have more abrasive formulations and therefore act more quickly, so you SEE a result faster.

Potential Dangers with Whitening Toothpastes

But at what point does the abrasiveness of your whitening toothpaste become a danger? This is where things get interesting. All the while the little bits of silica are rubbing off your surface stains, they could be removing a little bit of tooth enamel as well. Some dentists are starting to worry that long-term use of heavily abrasive toothpastes will eventually weaken enamel to the point where plaque and bacteria begin to damage the teeth themselves.

Finding out How Abrasive a Whitening Toothpaste Is

The American Dental Association evaluates US commercial toothpaste formulas and assigns them an “abrasiveness rating” or “Relative Dentin Abrasivity” (RDA) number. The ADA will certify any toothpaste with an RDA of 250 or less, while the FDA seems to prefer a lower RDA of 200. If you don’t know the RDA of your whitening toothpaste, you can find out by using the consumer contact information on the package or container. The following chart ranks commercial toothpastes in order of their RDA value.

Toothpaste Name RDA
Toothbrush with plain water 04
Plain baking soda 07
Weleda Salt Toothpaste 15
Elmex Sensitive Plus 30
Weleda Plant Tooth Gel 30
Arm & Hammer Dental Care 35
Weleda Children’s Tooth Gel 40
Arm & Hammer Advance Whitening/ Peroxide 42
Squiggle Enamel Saver 44
Weleda Calendula Toothpaste 45
Weleda Pink Toothpaste with Ratanhia 45
Oxyfresh 45
Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive 48
Tom’s of Maine Sensitive 49
Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular 52
Rembrandt Original 53
Closys 53
Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Bold Mint 54
Tom’s of Maine Childrens 57
Supersmile 62
Rembrandt Mint 63
Colgate Regular 68
Colgate Total 70
Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive 70
Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint 70
Biotene 78
Sensodyne 79
AIM 80
Close Up 80
Under the Gum 82
Colgate Sensitive Max Strength 83
Nature’s Gate 87
Aquafresh Sensitive 91
Tom’s of Maine 93
Rembrandt Plus 94
Oxyfresh with Fluoride 95
Crest Regular 95
Oxyfresh Powder 97
Natural White 101
Mentadent 103
Arm & Hammer Sensation 103
Sensodyne Extra Whitening 104
Colgate Platinum 106
Arm & Hammer Advance White 106
Crest Sensitivity Protection 107
Colgate Herbal 110
Amway Glister 110
Aquafresh Whitening 113
Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel 117
Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control 117
Close Up with Baking Soda 120
Colgate Whitening 124
Crest Extra Whitening 130
Ultra Brite 133
Crest Multicare Whitening 144
Ultra Brite Advanced Whitening Formula 145
Pepsodent 150
Colgate Tartar Control 165
Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mints 178
Nature’s Gate Pastee 95
Colgate 2-in-1TartarControl/Whitening 82 Under the Gum or Icy Blast 94
FDA recommended upper limit 200
ADA recommended upper limit 250
Perioscript and Natural Dentist RDA levels were not available because the companies consider it to be proprietary information. Epic, Young Living, Jason, and Peelu RDA levels are not available because the companies do not test them.

But, again, many dentists are not completely satisfied with the RDA method of categorizing whitening toothpastes for safety. Multi-year long-term studies have not been conducted in many instances (since the field of teeth whitening is a relative newcomer to scientific inquiry). And abuse of whitening products is not unheard of among those wishing for the whitest possible smile.

How can you make sure you’re taking care of your teeth as well as your good looks? Follow these basic principals and see your dentist at regular intervals.

1. ALTERNATE – Alternate whitening toothpastes and regular toothpastes. You don’t need a whitening toothpaste every day – so give your enamel a break with a gentler toothpaste a few days every month.

2. LOOK FOR THE ADA SEAL OF APPROVAL – You’ll know your toothpaste has been evaluated by qualified professionals.

3. USE A FLUORIDE FORMULA – Fluoride helps to build and strengthen tooth enamel, so it’s extra protection for those who whiten.

4. KEEP ABRASIVENESS AT BAY – If you have sensitive teeth, then look for low RDA values in your toothpaste.

Spend a little time researching the proper whitening toothpaste for you – and you can smile knowing you’ve done your best for your long-term health and well-being.

A list of all Teeth Whitening Toothpastes can be found in our reviews section.

Chart reprinted with permission of Ronald L. King, DDS Giang T. Pham, DDS 6100 Excelsior Boulevard, Suite East St. Louis Park, MN 55416

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One thought on “All About Whitening Toothpastes

  1. midsummer says:

    It’s actually a great and useful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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