Ask LH: Do Teeth-Whitening Toothpastes Actually Work?

Dear Lifehacker, I am thinking of purchasing some whitening toothpaste to try and get my teeth a few shades whiter. Does it actually work? Any recommendations? Thanks, Pearly Whites

Dear PW,

It depends on who you ask. Some people swear that whitening toothpaste really does improve their smile, while others dismiss it as snake oil for gobs. Firsthand testing is pretty inconclusive one way or the other.

During an in-depth CHOICE study, around half of participants didn’t notice any difference at all. Of the remaining participants, most only noticed a very small change – which may have been the result of all that extra brushing.

Of the 22 brands tested by CHOICE, only WHITE GLO Extra Strength Professional Choice produced results that were significantly better than the average. This product purportedly contains a whitening formulation that will lighten discolouration and yellowing on tooth enamel caused by food and drinks. You can find out more about WHITE GLO products here.

If you’re looking for a short-term solution that provides quick results, Oral-B’s 3D White might be a better bet. This is a three-step teeth whitening system that uses hydrogen peroxide to give you whiter teeth in just two days.

Our PopSugar colleagues tested this product on her own teeth and the results were pretty impressive. Here are how her teeth looked before and after the two-day treatment:

“I didn’t wake up with Delta Goodrem’s teeth, but after seeing the results and using the range for literally 48 hours, I at least feel like I’m a little closer,” Laura explains.

“Not only are all of my teeth noticeably whiter (and I mean, my boyfriend commented — unheard of!) I have seen the biggest change in my canines. Success! I’ve definitely made the decision to swap out my usual toothpaste and mouthwash for this whitening system.” (You can read the full PopSugar report here and here.)

It’s worth noting that Laura didn’t have problematic chompers to begin with, which may have skewed the results somewhat. If your teeth are noticeably yellow, you should probably have them assessed by a dentist first – no matter how effective whitening toothpaste is, some stains and discolourations can only be removed via professional treatments.

Whichever brand you choose, it’s important to be aware of abrasives that may have the potential to damage the enamel on your teeth. According to this study, you should avoid teeth-whitening toothpastes that contain pyrophosphate/hydrated silica.


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


3 responses to “Ask LH: Do Teeth-Whitening Toothpastes Actually Work?”

Leave a Reply