If your browse the oral care aisles of your local pharmacy or supermarket, you'll probably see several shelves of tooth whitening products and systems, including toothpastes and mouthwashes that promise to whiten as they clean your teeth. Even some brands of chewing gum say that they will whiten your teeth as you chew! If you have yellowed or stained teeth, you might note some reasons why you should avoid these products and discuss your oral care needs with your family dentist instead.


Many tooth whitening products will contain baking soda, peroxide and other such ingredients that may clean some surface stains from your teeth. However, those substances also absorb saliva and then dry your mouth. This is not healthy, as saliva is needed to rinse away food particles, germs, bacteria and other harmful substances from inside the mouth. If these substances are not rinsed away, they can cause tooth decay, bad breath and a host of other oral healthcare issues. You may have slightly whiter teeth when you use these products, but you may also have damaged teeth and bad breath as well.


Many tooth whitening products that you buy from the pharmacy need to be very weak, with few active ingredients, so that they don't damage teeth even if a consumer should use them too often. Because these products are so weak or don't have many active ingredients, they can be very ineffective, so you might not notice a difference in the colour of your teeth after using them. 

Another reason such products are often ineffective is that your teeth may be discoloured due to age or damage, and not simply because of surface stains. Bleach and peroxide and other such materials used to clean stains from teeth will do little to make those teeth white again if they are grey due to cavities, erosion or loss of enamel. Your teeth may also simply be a darker shade than what you like, which means that no amount of bleach or other such product will ever make them as light and bright as you expect!

The products used by your dentist are more effective and are typically guaranteed to work. Your dentist can even paint your teeth if a bleaching or other such process is ineffective to ensure you're happy with the end result and don't have to waste your time or your money on products you buy from the pharmacy.