Walking down a local store's toothpaste aisle is a daunting experience given the vast amount of toothpaste choices available for the consumer. Adding to the mix are whitening toothpastes, which toothpaste companies have been advertising as inexpensive, but effective, methods for brightening a smile. However, consumers with weak tooth enamel can damage their tooth enamel by using whitening toothpastes.
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Tooth Enamel Structure
The smooth texture of a person's teeth hides the structure beneath it. The structure of tooth enamel resembles small tubes packed closely together, with the tooth's inner core beneath the tubular formation. Over time, stains sink from the tooth's surface into the tubes, trapping them and creating tooth discolouration. Once the stains enter the enamel tubes, tooth brushing cannot remove the discolouration.
Whitening Toothpaste Considerations
The majority of whitening toothpastes consist of abrasive ingredients, such as silica. The abrasive actively scrapes the tooth's surface for stain removal. This scraping of the tooth's surface removes tooth enamel, especially if the enamel is inherently weak. In addition, whitening toothpaste requires multiple uses, contributing to permanent enamel damage over a long period of time. Many whitening toothpaste advocates use the paste continually for retaining a whiter smile. Most abrasive whitening toothpastes advise users to brush their teeth while their teeth are dry; however, this method brings the abrasive even closer to the tooth enamel, generating more enamel damage.
Whitening Toothpaste Types
A safe whitening toothpaste for weak tooth enamel must not contain any abrasives. Instead, chemical agents should be the key active ingredient. Read the ingredient list on the back of the toothpaste before purchasing to see if it has any abrasives. Since the majority of toothpastes use the abrasive whitening method, consult with a dentist regarding safe whitening toothpaste choices.
Alternative to Whitening Toothpastes
A safe whitening alternative for patients with weak tooth enamel is chemical whitening, or bleaching. A tooth tray, filled with peroxide, is held in the mouth across the teeth for a specified time duration. The bleaching process actually enters the enamel tubes and counteracts the stain's chemical reaction forming the discolouration. The stains will slowly become whiter through multiple bleaching applications. However, the enamel is not physically damaged with abrasives since the bleaching relies on chemical reactions.
Weak tooth enamel is prone to staining due to its fragile structure. Frequent dental cleanings and polishings help prevent more stain occurrences, without the need for whitening processes. However, some patients cannot achieve the whitest smile through whitening techniques due to root canal surgeries or tetracycline antibiotic use.
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