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Does fluoride whiten teeth?

Updated: Apr 9

The dentist always put fluoride varnish on your teeth because it makes it better and better means whiter teeth right? If fluoride does not whiten your teeth then what is it for?


Fluoride varnish
Fluoride varnish

Fluoride whitens teeth right? Tell me its so. It has to be since whiter will always be better!


Unfortunately fluoride does not whiten your teeth. If it did have that effect, it would be in the ingredient for all of the whitening materials out there. Our long island city dentists have only ever seen the two ingredients below.


Common whitening material ingredients:

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Carbamide peroxide

Every whitening material has either one of those two products listed as the main ingredient. Have you ever seen fluoride varnish as one of the ingredients? Bet you haven't.


Rather than fluoride whitening teeth, what does it do then?

Fluoride is very safe and not harmful in low dosages but they can cause unintended side effects when taken in large dosages, namely:

  • Fluorosis

  • Mottled enamel


Fluorosis

This is a tooth condition when you have excess fluoride. You actually start to develop white spots on the teeth but they aren't very even. So, technically fluoride whitens teeth sort of... but not really. Usually when people whiten their teeth, they want the entire tooth to be uniform white. This will leave splotches here and there.


These white spots are hypomineralizations, which are weakened areas of enamel. This is not something that you want. Not very aesthetic looking if you ask me.

Mottled enamel

This is actually a more severe form of fluorosis. You may think that whitened spots on the enamel may look better than yellow but once you increase the concentration of fluoride intake some more, it becomes more severe. Mottled enamel is when those white spots actually start turning into a brown stain.


The teeth will be stained brown with some pitting on the enamel. Definitely not what you would want. This is the farthest result from fluoride whitening teeth.

Interesting how it turns from extra white to brown right?


So... what you're telling me is that after all this time after fluoride treatment and I had to wait to eat, it wasn't because it was whitening my teeth!?


That's right, that wasn't the purpose of receiving fluoride varnish. The only reason dentists put it on is to fight tooth decay. Our enamel is made of hydroxyapatite but when it comes into contact with fluoride, it transforms into fluorapatite, which is a stronger version.


It basically re-enforces the existing layer of enamel and makes it more decay resistant. It works better when there is more contact time so I hope that answers your question of what happens if you eat after fluoride. If you eat right away, it will decrease the efficacy of the treatment so you might've wasted your time getting it in the first place.



Fluoride may not whiten your teeth directly but it does help in the process via secondary means. What it can do is decrease teeth sensitivity so when you do undergo teeth whitening, you can use fluoride treatment or a fluoridated toothpaste to lessen the sensitivity from whitening. When you bleach your teeth, it definitely does make it very sensitive so this can help a lot


Takeaway

Does fluoride whiten teeth? No, it doesn't but you should still get the fluoride treatment because it strengthens your teeth. If you want to whiten your teeth, you should check out Kor Whitening.

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