What Ingredients Whiten Teeth?

Let’s be honest – there are times when we just can’t be bothered to look at the ingredient list of most things. If we know something works and we like it, then what’s the point? The same goes with whitening treatments. As long as we get our white teeth, what do we care how it happened?

But what if I told you that knowing the ingredients that these whitening treatments contain and how they work can actually lead to whiter teeth?

Think about it like this: If you know what whitening ingredients are most effective, you can ensure you buy the best possible treatment for your teeth.

Basically, if you’re looking for a more science-based approach to teeth whitening, this article is for you.

Breaking Down the Ingredients in Whitening Treatments

We are going to look at four different whitening treatments, ranging from least to most effective. More importantly, we will discuss what ingredients they use and what you should look for.

But first, let’s talk about an ingredient you will see in just about every whitening treatment on this list: hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide works so well as a whitening ingredient because it can penetrate deep beneath the surface of the tooth to break down stain-causing molecules.

Okay, let’s get into our different whitening treatments!

Bleach-Less Whitening Methods

The following teeth whitening treatments are ones that are bleach-free. Though they may contain a bleaching ingredient, such as hydrogen peroxide, it is used quickly and in very small quantities.

#1 Toothpaste

There are certain brands of toothpastes that advertise brighter, whiter teeth. It’s pretty enticing to think that you could whiten your teeth by doing something you do every morning and night anyways – brushing your teeth!

But what toothpastes actually follow through on their whitening promises? More importantly – what ingredients should you look for to achieve a whiter smile.

Whitening toothpastes usually contain small doses of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that can help to lighten the shade and color of the tooth.

As an example, let’s look at the Colgate Optic White Platinum whitening toothpaste.

When looking at the ingredient list online, we can clearly see hydrogen peroxide listed in the inactive ingredients. This is important because, again, peroxide is the agent that will whiten your teeth.

But here’s where it gets tricky: Even your ‘whitening toothpastes’ will vary greatly from brand to brand.

For example, this let’s look at an alternative whitening toothpaste below.

Crest 3D White Whitening Therapy Enamel Care

does not contain any peroxide. Instead, it contains ingredients that work to remove surface stains – not necessarily whiten teeth.

Some of the first Inactive ingredients  we see include:

  • Sodium HexametaphosphateHelps prevent surface stains
  • Hydrated SilicaMild abrasive that removes surface stains

So you can see that the main role this toothpaste plays is surface-stain removal – not teeth whitening.

Not one toothpaste is better than the other but it is important to know what ingredients are better suited for you and your teeth.

For example, if you have weak enamel and want to remove surface stains, the Crest toothpaste might be your best bet. On the other hand, if you want to see a more noticeable 1-2 shade difference in the color of your teeth, the Colgate toothpaste is going to be a better option.

Regardless of the whitening agent, there is one ingredient that you will see in almost all toothpastes: Fluoride.

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Fluoride aids in the prevention of tooth decay by making the teeth more resistant to plaque, bacteria and acid. This helps maintain a balance between the demineralization and remineralization of the teeth.

We can see that in the crest toothpaste, for example, there is 0.243% sodium fluoride. This is an essential ingredient in any toothpaste.

#2 Rinse

Similar to toothpaste, there are whitening rinses you can use to adjust the color of your teeth. These whitening rinses work similarly to a regular mouthwash except they contain whitening agents.

It’s important to note that using a rinse will yield much less noticeable effects than, say whitening strips, because they are only in contact with your teeth for a short period of time.

However, if you’re looking for a mild approach to teeth whitening, they can be a great alternative. The following mouth rinses are great options for whiter teeth:

  • Crest 3D White Luxe Glamerous White – Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Multi-Care Whitening Rinse has a triple-action formula that freshens breath by killing bad-breath germs, whitens teeth by removing surface stains, and protects from future stains.
  • LISTERINE® HEALTHY WHITE GENTLE Sodium Fluoride Mouthwash – Unlike the Crest mouthwash above, this Listerine rinse contains no peroxide, making it gentle on enamel. It works to remove stains and prevent future ones.

Whitening Treatments With Bleach

The following whitening methods contain higher bleach concentrations. Treatments that contain bleach will yield much more drastic and noticeable whitening results.

Bleach can seem scary, but when used safely and by following instructions, it can work in your favor!

#3 At Home Whitening Kits

Whitening kits that are done at home tend to contain around 3% hydrogen peroxide, which is a lot more than whitening toothpastes and rinses but a lot less than in-office treatments (which we will discuss further on.)

You can expect to see more results from a home whitening kit than your normal brushing and rinsing. But because there is less peroxide, you will likely have to complete a few rounds of treatment. For example, Crest Whitestrips take about 2 weeks to complete!

#4 In-Office Whitening

The strength of the bleaching agent greatly affects the overall quality of your whitening treatment, and it’s why in-office whitening is most effective.

Most whitening gels applied in your dentist’s office will contain hydrogen peroxide levels of about 15% to 43%.

Your dentist may also utilize certain lights or other equipment to bring your teeth to their optimal whiteness.