Whitening gum was created for people who like white teeth and also like chewing gum but does it work and is it worth it? We will explore everything there is to know about gum that can potentially whiten your teeth. Facts will be heard and questionable claims will be debunked by our long island city dentist, Dr David Chen.
Table of contents:
What are teeth whitening gum?
Teeth whitening chewing gum is gum that allegedly whitens your teeth as you chew it. It claims to be able to do so because of the whitening ingredients in it. These whitening chewing gums don't look any different from regular gum and you wouldn't even be able to tell except for the fact that they usually list white or whitening on it.
List of common whitening gum:
Supersmile professional whitening gum Calprox
Trident White gum titanium dioxide
Orbit White gum sodium bicarbonate
Mentos Pure White gum nada
Vitacare Whitening gum
How to use it:
All teeth whitening gum are used the same way, you have to chew it. These are the instructions from Supersmile.
Pop it open from packaging.
Chew the gum.
Watch your teeth brighten.
The instructions don't get any simpler than that and there is nothing special you need to do with it either. You basically treated it as if it was just normal chewing gum.
Does gum whiten teeth?
Now whether or not this can actually whiten your teeth is up for discussion. Some of the gum do indeed contain whitening ingredients but how effective they whiten your teeth is questionable. The first thing we should do is go over the facts.
These chewing gum do have "whitening" ingredients but they differ depending on which brand of gum you're using.
Calprox®. This is a patented product that is a blend of baking soda but it is basically calcium peroxide. Supersmile is the only product which uses this ingredient. The effects are similar to how baking soda works.
Titanium dioxide. This is an abrasive material that works by removing external surface stains via abrasion. Most toothpastes also contain this to help whiten teeth by removing surface stains only.
Sodium bicarbonate. The scientific name of baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, which means that you're chewing on baking soda.
We've scoured the internet and have found just two studies, which are relevant to our topic of whether or not gum whitens your teeth. What this immediately implies is that there hasn't been much research or actual studies done on the topic. It also means that there aren't a lot of hard facts that can prove all of these alleged claims of how chewing gum can whiten your teeth either.
The first study did a critical review of modern whitening concepts. They examined whitening agents, whitening toothpastes, and also other other whitening products such as gum. The conclusion that they came to was, "The effect of other whitening agents in vivo is often unclear because of a shortage of placebo-controlled clinical trials." Therefore, we don't actually know whether gum can whiten your teeth or not since there aren't enough studies on it.
The second study compared medicated nicotine gum (Nicotinell) vs whitening gum and surprisingly the nicotine gum had a greater whitening effect on teeth. It was more effective because they were able to remove extrinsic stains better. There were no claims or statements made about intrinsic stain removal capabilities so it only works on external stains.
The conclusion that these two studies came to were:
There isn't enough data to support whitening claims by chewing gum.
Nicotine gum does a better job at whitening than teeth whitening gum.
Based on information from these studies, we cannot confidently say that whitening gum is all that effective. Nonetheless, we will also run through a simple logic exercise to further cement the idea that the gum is probably not that effective after all.
We have doubts about the whitening efficacy of chewing gum because it whitens the wrong surface, the wrong teeth, and the concentration of whitening ingredients is too low.
The Wrong Surface
Teeth whitening gum is chewed on the top part of your back teeth. The top part is also called the chewing surface of your teeth. If the gum does indeed whiten, they will be whitening the chewing surface of your teeth, which is the wrong surface to whiten. The surfaces of your teeth that you want to whiten should be the outward facing front side of your teeth.
Think about it for a moment because when your dentist does professional teeth whitening on you, they always place the gel on the outward facing front side of your teeth. This is because when you smile you see the outward facing side of your teeth. Nobody smiles to show off their chewing surfaces.
The Wrong Teeth
The chewing gum will also whiten the wrong teeth because we all chew gum with our back teeth and not our front teeth. It is nice to whiten the back teeth but we all know that the teeth which we care the most about are the front ones. The front ones are the ones that we want to be whiter, the back ones are just an afterthought.
Low Whitening Concentration in gum
The concentration of the ingredients for whitening for chewing gum are too low to be effective because its meant to be a consumable. For all other types of whitening products, you're not suppose to swallow the gel because it isn't that good for you but for the gum, the instructions do not tell you to spit out the liquid while you're chewing. This means that the chewing gum were probably designed to be in a low enough concentration that it is safe for you to swallow.
If it had a high concentration, the instructions would've said to not swallow. If you've had whitening done at the dentist, they use the saliva ejector to make sure you don't swallow any of the excess material. That is because high concentrations of whitening agents can be harmful. What this means for the gum is that it is probably not harmful but also probably not very effective either.
Based on the few scientific studies and our own logic, we would have to say that teeth whitening gum is most likely not very effective. The gum basically whitens the wrong surface and the wrong teeth. The concentration of the product is also extremely low because it was designed to be swallowed without harming you. Last but not least, there aren't any actual studies which prove that it is effective.
We do have to say that even if it doesn't whiten your teeth, it can still help you prevent additional staining on your teeth. This is because chewing the gum will mechanically remove food debris, which may stain your teeth. It will also get your saliva flowing so that it can help clear out the food and buff away any staining acid residues that may be in your mouth.
Is it worth it?
Even though we don't think the product is very effective, its not disadvantageous to chew the gum since it is fairly inexpensive. Compared to professional teeth whitening, the gum is a mere fraction of the cost so if you want to give it a try, it is well worth your money in our opinion. Just don't expect it to drastically brighten your teeth.
Nonetheless, if we had to pick the best gum for teeth whitening it would be the medicated gum Nicotinell since there is an actual study that proves it is more effective than commercial gum. With that being said, if you don't smoke nor are you trying to quit smoking, why would you chew gum with nicotine in it? That makes no sense and it is harmful to your health. Therefore, our own recommendation for teeth whitening would be to seek an alternative.
If you want a whitening product that is actually effective, we would give the take home whitening gels a try. If that doesn't work you can get it professional done with your dentist. That will definitely give you a result that you'll be satisfied with.
Nonetheless, if you don't want to use a professional product there are also a lot of alternative ways to do it. We do have a guide on how to whiten your teeth with every way imaginable.
If you're still looking for the best teeth whitening gum, you may be sorely disappointed. Contact our office for some real results with professional teeth whitening.