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What Is a Whitening Toothbrush?

Most people's teeth are naturally white, but the can become darker and stained over time.
A whitening toothbrush is designed to remove stains and plaque.
Drinking coffee and smoking are both likely to stain teeth.
Article Details
  • Written By: Micki Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A whitening toothbrush is a dental hygiene instrument meant for use at least twice daily. By removing surface stains and plaque, which can lead to more severe dental health issues, these toothbrushes are said to make teeth appear a few shades brighter. Some of these brushes are manual, while others may be battery-operated; various features aid different models in providing what they promise to the consumer. It is important for users to consider the actual effects and recommended usage of a whitening toothbrush in order to achieve the best possible results.

Bristles that are generally soft and are located at the tip of the brush are meant to remove visible discoloration from the teeth. Certain foods and habits may cause these spots or stains, such as coffee and smoking. For some people, fluoride treatments during childhood may have affected the natural color of teeth. Still others may have genetically off-white teeth. The main way in which a whitening toothbrush supposedly works is by lightening these yellow or brown areas.

Several manufacturers of whitening toothbrushes also point out that plaque buildup may eventually lead to unhealthy, discolored teeth. Plaque is a clear film that gathers on the teeth, usually along the gum line, when bacteria are present. If plaque is not removed, a hard coating of tartar may form, leading to issues such as gingivitis and cavities that could result in discoloration of the teeth.

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A manual whitening toothbrush may be purchased fairly inexpensively, while battery or plug-in toothbrushes may be more costly. Studies have suggested that electric toothbrushes can have a greater positive effect on overall dental hygiene due to mobile bristles. Some brushes are equipped with lights that are said to kill photo-sensitive bacteria that can cause stains.

Many dentists caution that whitening toothbrushes do not always deliver on their claims. Gels and bleaches, used either at home or in a dental office, generally have a faster, longer-lasting effect. Toothbrushes that claim to whiten teeth almost always require that one also use whitening toothpaste when brushing. Toothpastes may contain small doses of chemicals that could remove surface stains faster than pastes without whitening chemicals, though the brush used in conjunction often does not have a great effect on the results.

Whitening toothbrushes are considered a fairly cheap way to help maintain or possibly increase the whiteness of teeth. Doctors recommend using brushes and pastes that are recognized by a health organization, such as the American Dental Association (ADA). Brushing after every meal is widely accepted as a safe way to ensure dental health, which may be one source of whiter, brighter teeth.

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