Whitening and tartar control toothpastes carry some serious side effects with prolonged use that everyone should be aware of. All toothpastes are given a relative dentin abrasivity number by the American Dental Association. The higher the RDA number, the more abrasive it is to the tooth surface.
Whitening and tartar control toothpastes have high RDA numbers.
With whitening toothpaste, abrasive particles are added to scrub surface stains harder. They don’t chemically whiten the teeth the way that Crest Whitestrips would, for example. These pastes can initially make teeth appear whiter because your wine, pasta sauce, coffee and tea gets scrubbed away more effectively.
However, this has pretty serious long-term negative effects. The paste is so abrasive that it wears away tooth enamel, and eventually the second layer of tooth called dentin.
Enamel is the outer white layer of tooth, dentin is the inner yellow layer. If you wear away the enamel, your teeth will become less shiny, more yellow, and you may notice notches along the gumline. Your gums can be affected as well, and recession can occur.
Tartar control toothpastes work in the same way. Those added abrasive particles will help to remove more tartar from your teeth...but again, you’ll remove some of the tooth structure as well.
To protect your teeth over time, Dr. Lavigne recommends toothpastes with an RDA value of 70 or less.
If you tend to build up tartar quickly, more frequent cleanings are much healthier than tartar control toothpaste. And if you’re interested in whiter teeth, there are ways to achieve that - but your toothpaste is not one of them.
Happy, healthy brushing!