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Is Whitening Toothpaste Bad For Your Teeth?

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Teeth whitening makes your teeth really sensitive and you're not suppose to use it everyday but is that the same for whitening toothpaste? Can you use whitening toothpaste everyday without it harming or damaging your enamel?

colgate total

Table of Contents:

Is it safe to be use whitening toothpaste everyday?

It is totally safe to be using whitening toothpaste everyday because most of them don't actually have any whitening ingredients within them! If there is no whitening material in the toothpaste then it can't damage your teeth. Was that a surprise to you?

As a reminder, there are only two ingredients that will whiten your teeth:

Therefore, if neither of these two ingredients are on the toothpaste packaging, then the chances of it "whitening" your teeth would be pretty slim. We can compare some of the common whitening toothpastes and what is in the box labeled ingredients.

  • Active ingredients - Stannous Fluoride 0.454%

  • Inactive ingredients - Water, Sorbitol, Hydrated Silica, Glycerin, PEG-12, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Flavor, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Sodium Citrate, Zinc Phosphate, Cellulose gum, Sodium Saccharin, Sucralose, CI 77891

  • Active ingredients - Potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride

  • Inactive ingredients - Water, hydrated silica, sorbitol, glycerin, pentasodium triphosphate, PEG-8, flavor, titanium dioxide, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, cocamidopropyl betaine, xanthan gum, sodium hydroxide, sodium saccharin, sucralose

Sensodyne extra whitening
Sensodyne extra whitening

You can double check but neither hydrogen peroxide nor carbamide peroxide are listed in there so they don't technically have any whitening properties in the traditional sense. Even the baking soda with peroxide toothpastes don't have it either. This makes it safe to use whitening toothpaste everyday.

Does whitening toothpaste damage your enamel?

Since there is no whitening material in the toothpaste, it will not damage your enamel BUT a different ingredient within it can. Whitening toothpaste can damage your enamel due to the abrasiveness of the toothpaste rather than from the whitening ingredient. That is in fact how they work, by abrading away surface stains on your teeth so that they appear whiter.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), all toothpastes have an RDA value, relative dentin abrasivity.

  • All toothpastes that are below a 250 RDA value are considered safe for the enamel.

  • All toothpastes that are above 250 RDA may cause harm to your enamel.

Here is a chart of some common toothpastes and their relative dentin abrasivity:

According to the ADA, long term use of a high RDA toothpaste will wear away at the enamel and the dentin so please stay away from those! Also do not forget that your brushing technique also has a correlation with damaging your enamel.

Aggressive brushing with a hard brush will damage your enamel and cause receding gums.

The only whitening toothpaste that works

Despite the lack of whitening material in most toothpastes, there is actually one toothpaste on the market that does contain it. The only toothpaste with real whitening in it is the Colgate Optic White toothpaste.

The optic white toothpaste contains 3% hydrogen peroxide so it can potentially whiten your teeth. Please be aware that most take home whitening products usually contain 10% or more so the concentration of whitening material is quite low in this paste.

Our theory is that they created the toothpaste with a low concentration so that it is fit for everyday use. A high whitening concentration toothpaste that is used everyday will damage your enamel but a low concentration one will not.

Take away

Most whitening toothpastes are safe for your teeth and enamel because there is no whitening material in it. The main whitening gel is hydrogen peroxide or some derivative of it. If you read the instruction label carefully, you'll notice that most of these toothpastes don't actually contain it. This is why it is safe to use it on a daily basis.

You do have to be cautious because these toothpastes work by abrading surface stains from your teeth to appear whiter. The recommendation by the ADA is to use a toothpaste with a lower RDA value so that it does not damage your enamel.

With that being said, there is one exception due to the one singular toothpaste on the market that contains 3% hydrogen peroxide, the Colgate optic white. That one will whiten your teeth since it does contain the real ingredient. They also do come in a higher concentration one as well.

If you wanted to explore other ways on whitening your teeth, we do have a guide for that. Aside form that you can always get professional in-office teeth whitening as well that is guaranteed to work.

Author: Written by Dr David Chen DDS, a long island city dentist


David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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