Does Brushing Your Teeth Make Them Whiter?

Many people are continually on the lookout for simple ways to look more attractive. One popular technique is tooth whitening. Good dental hygiene dictates frequent brushing, which can help make your teeth whiter. Teeth whitening through brushing is not the most effective method, but it can yield noticeable results if done properly.

Father and daughter brush their teeth. (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

Considerations

Your teeth are naturally some shade of white. Their color changes over time because of eating, drinking, smoking and taking certain medications, according to Linda Dyett of the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. This happens even if you brush them regularly because the enamel covering them develops small cracks and crevices that trap debris. The underlying dentin, which has a yellowish color, also starts to show through as the enamel wears down and gets transparent due to age, trauma and food acids.

Effects

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day helps keep them white by removing the debris that accumulates from normal eating and drinking. You must brush them effectively to maximize the cleansing effect. Nemours Teens Health, a wellness website, explains you should brush from two to three minutes per session. Brush up from the spot where your teeth erupt from the gum to the top surface. Scrub the chewing surface thoroughly, getting the toothbrush bristles into little crevices. Finish up by brushing the back of your teeth.

Enhancement

Regular brushing is often not enough to keep teeth their brightest shade of white. Dr. Alan Carr, a prosthodontist with the Mayo Clinic, explains that whitening toothpaste can have a more beneficial effect than regular toothpastes. It contains abrasives that polish the teeth and chemicals that attack stains. However, it often takes up to four weeks to achieve a noticeable effect. Whitening toothpaste does not actually change a tooth's color. It only removes surface stains.

Alternatives

Effective alternatives to whitening toothpaste work through a different process. Whitening strips and gels actually bleach teeth, explains Dyett. This type of whitening can be done at home with store-bought products or kits obtained from a dentist. Many dental offices also perform whitening. Their process usually works more quickly than do-it-yourself methods because they use stronger products and may enhance their effectiveness with laser light.

Warning

Carr warns that whitening toothpastes can harm your tooth enamel if you use it excessively. Protect yourself by using a brand with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. Don't use it more than twice a day. Use a regular toothpaste for any additional brushing within a 24-hour period.

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