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Tooth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures in the world. According to an MSNBC study, Americans spent over 1.4 billion dollars on teeth whitening in 2006. That is a staggering amount of money for a whiter smile. Americans want brighter smiles thanks to the influence of TV where smiles are as bright as a light bulb.

It comes as no surprise that Americans will try almost anything to keep their pearly whites whiter. Many Americans go through a variety of procedures to keep their teeth white, including drinking through a straw to prevent stains, using at-home bleaching agents, and even swishing straight hydrogen peroxide. In answer to this trend, comes the tooth whitening gum.

Tooth whitening gum claims to make your teeth whiter and brighter as you chew. Some gums even claim that chewing their gum will offer protection against further staining after you chew it. So are these claims actually true? Can gum really help whiten you teeth?

According to Dr. Scott Frey, a well-known dentist, the answer is not really. Most tooth whitening gums contain whitening ingredients, including:

  • Baking soda
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Citric acid
  • Calprox
  • Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
  • Sodium ascorbate
  • Malic acid

Most of these ingredients work by acting as a gentle abrasive on the tooth, similar to what would happen during regular tooth brushing. Most tooth whitening gums act more like stain removers and preventers than true tooth-whitening methods. A few ingredients, like calprox and Tetrasodium pyrophosphate, coat the tooth and make it harder for stains to stick to the teeth. This can seem like it aids in whitening, but in reality, it simply prevents further darkening.

Generally, most gum whitening affects are temporary. Few coatings or stain-fighting ingredients last longer than the duration of when the gum is in your mouth. If you want a truly whiter tooth, chewing gum alone is not going to make a difference. You will need to try more aggressive whitening procedures such as bleaching and zoom whitening to really see a visible difference in your teeth.

Tooth whitening gum can be helpful in maintaining a whiter smile obtained through professional or over-the-counter whitening treatments. Gum will help reduce the amount of stains that are absorbed by the teeth. However, according to Dr. Scott Frey, regular gum that contains xylitol gum will have a similar stain-fighting effect on the teeth. Tooth whitening gum chewed immediately after a meal may also weaken the natural enable on the tooth, causing sensitivity. This is because teeth naturally have a higher acidic level after eating, and adding additional abrasives can potentially damage the teeth.

For a truly brighter smile, try a professional tooth-whitening method. This is the safest and most effective way to brighten the teeth. In Houston, a bright smile is a must, and professional dentistry is the best way to accomplish a sparkling smile no matter where you are. And if you must chew tooth whitening gum, try chewing it between meals rather than right after to prevent tooth sensitivity.