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The Truth About Teeth Whitening Gum

Teeth whitening is one of the most popular and common dental cosmetic procedure in the US, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). A perfect smile is desirable for various reasons including improving career advancement opportunities, boosting self-esteem, and enhancing one's image. One of the products you can use for this purpose is teeth whitening gum.

How does teeth whitening gum work?

Traditionally, teeth whitening involved visiting a dentist's office. Manufacturers of whitening gum have simply turned this process on its head by availing products consumers can use to whiten teeth without ever setting foot inside dentist's offices. All you have to do is pop chewing gum in your mouth and continue with daily tasks as active ingredients clear stains that have formed on teeth surface over time.

What are the active ingredients?

Ingredients found in teeth whitening gum include:

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Sodium ascorbate
  • Malic acid
  • Citrate/citric acid
  • Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
  • Baking soda
  • Silica

Most of these chemical compounds are gentle abrasives necessary for removing teeth stains. In addition, they tend to be slightly acidic in the mouth. Higher abrasiveness and acidity levels enhance the removal of stubborn stains. Besides these ingredients, manufacturers use diverse types of gum bases, sweeteners, and plasticizers. It is worth noting that chemical compounds found in gum base and plasticizers do not necessarily act as teeth whiteners. With this in mind, gum base consists of ingredients such as fats and oils, stabilizers, elastomers, inorganic fillers, thickeners, softeners, and resins. Ingredients found in gum sweeteners include saccharin, sucrose, dextrose, dipeptides, and cyclamates. Other ingredients likely to be present in teeth whitening chewing gum include hydrogenated vegetable oils, lecithin, glycerol monostearate, tallow, acidulants, colors, antioxidants, neem oil, parsley extract, xylitol, and maltitol. However, ingredients generally vary from one manufacturer to the next. Moreover, it is not mandatory for a manufacturer to include all the aforementioned ingredients.

Does the gum really work?

The effectiveness of teeth whitening gum is subject to debate. Nevertheless, evidence from several studies shows chewing teeth whitening products does produce appreciable results. Results of a study published in the journal BMC Oral Health as well as by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show gum with teeth whitening ingredients can reduce extrinsic staining. The color pigments found in food and tobacco products are the main causes of extrinsic staining. Nevertheless, such whitening is not permanent and will disappear over time if you stop chewing whitening gum.

How quickly can you see results?

Since manufacturers use mild abrasive ingredients, it takes time to see appreciable results. Furthermore, intensity of teeth staining plays a big role in determining how fast you can see results. Taking into account these factors, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for teeth to whiten. According to the ADA, nicotine stained teeth could take up to three months to show signs of whitening. For tetracycline stained teeth, whitening can take even longer, up to six months.

Is it healthy?

Some of the ingredients used in the manufacture of these gum products can be harmful to human health. For instance, titanium dioxide is a risk factor associated with development of Crohn's disease and asthma, according to findings of a study published in the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology journal.

Another potentially harmful ingredient is the additive aspartame, which is widely used as a sugar substitute. The problem with aspartame is it can cause side effects such as extreme irritability, chest pain, and blindness, according to the US Federal and Drug Administration (FDA). The ADA warns hydrogen peroxide is cytotoxic and a known irritant.

Best Alternatives

1. Home use peroxide-based bleaching products.

Instead of chewing gum as described above, try peroxide-based products.

Pros

Unlike chewing gum, peroxide-based bleaching agents act and produce results faster.

Cons

Bleaching agents that contain peroxide can irritate gums. They also increase tooth sensitivity, according to the ADA.

2. Home use teeth whitening strips and gels

Whitening gels and strips are applied on surface of teeth for about 14 days.

Pros

Expect to see results after a few days. In addition, they are easy to apply.

Cons

Degree of whitening may be lower than results achieved using in-office products.

3. In-office teeth whitening

This type of teeth whitening takes place at a dentist's office. Your dentist will use a product that contains higher level of bleaching agent, 25 to 40% strong hydrogen peroxide, to remove stains.

Pros

In-office teeth whitening produces by far the best results.

Cons

Several visits to your dentist's office may be necessary. Moreover, visiting a dentist's office can be costly.

Conclusion

Teeth whitening gum can help you get rid of stains making your smile less than perfect. They contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide, sodium bicarbonate, sodium ascorbate,citric acid, and tetrasodium pyrophosphate.