If you’re an avid coffee, tea or red wine drinker, you may notice how your teeth can look dull — even gray and discolored — to the point where you may even feel self-conscious about flashing a smile. And while there are a number of teeth-whitening products on the market that promise a brighter smile, most can take days to weeks to see results. For quicker results, there are in-office whitening treatments, which can also take years off of your smile in an hour but that will also set you back hundreds of dollars (the average cost is $650 per treatment). For an affordable and fast-acting remedy, look to purple toothpaste. These pastes, which are like a purple shampoo for teeth, are being lauded on TikTok with videos tagged #purpletoothpaste racking up over 140 million views thanks to their instant teeth-brightening benefits. To learn more about purple toothpaste and why dentists recommend it, keep scrolling.
What is purple toothpaste and how does it work?
These pastes get their name from their vibrant purple tint. “Purple toothpaste works by using purple dye to neutralize any yellowish stains or coloration on the teeth,” explains Rhonda Kalasho, DDS of TruGlo Modern Dental in Los Angeles. In addition to the purple dye, these pastes are also commonly made with a combination of fluoride and baking soda. Why these two other ingredients are beneficial for teeth: Fluoride helps strengthen teeth and protect them from cavities, while baking soda helps remove stains and plaque.
How does purple toothpaste work? It uses color theory’s principle of complementary colors. Complementary colors are shades that lie directly opposite each other on the color wheel, like yellow and purple. “According to the color theory, when complementary colors are mixed, they create either white or black. Alas, that’s why purple toothpaste does indeed make teeth look brighter,” says dentist Brian Kantor, DDS of Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor dental practice in New York City.
To see for yourself how fast purple toothpaste works, check out the below video from @kwcyaighc95 on TikTok.
One thing to note with purple toothpastes is that the teeth-brightening results are only temporary. “There are zero benefits in the long term to using purple toothpaste,” says New York-based dentist Irina Kessler, DDS. “It’s a quick fix for someone to use for an event to reduce the appearance of stained teeth.” That’s because “it doesn’t remove stains, but acts as a type of optical illusion to give you whiter teeth,” adds dentist Jessica Tasios, DDS of Ora Dental in Ontario.
Who should use purple toothpaste?
Dr. Kessler says that purple toothpaste is for someone who doesn’t want to actually bleach their teeth, as it will hide only mild stains not severe discoloration. “For severe discoloration, one should see a dentist for a proper consultation with X-rays to discuss options such as in-office bleaching or veneers,” she says.
Purple toothpaste is also a great whitening alternative for those who are sensitive to bleach and other harsh teeth-whitening treatments. The paste is gentle and doesn’t actually penetrate the enamel so there’s no pain involved with using one.
Is purple toothpaste safe?
Purple toothpaste is safe to use daily, just as you use regular toothpaste, says Dr. Tasios. “You can use it up to three times a day, however, I would limit it to once daily and use regular fluoride toothpaste for regular tooth brushing to prevent cavities.”
And if you’re worried about the paste’s vibrant color turning teeth purple, don’t. Purple toothpaste deposits a sheer and temporary wash of violet pigments on teeth so they’re left looking pearly-white, not purple.
The 2 best purple toothpastes
SmileKit V-34 Colour Corrector (Buy from Amazon, $15.99)
This affordable pick from Dr. Tasios offers immediate whitening results. To use, just apply 2 pumps to your toothbrush and brush on teeth for 2 minutes; rinse.
Crest 3D White Brilliance Luminous Purple Toothpaste (Buy from CVS, $8.79).
Dr. Tasios favors this purple-tinted whitening toothpaste. She says it can make teeth appear brighter and it also helps cut down on bad breath.
Tip: If you don’t want to buy a purple toothpaste, you can also mix 1-2 drops of purple food coloring in with 1 Tbs. of your regular toothpaste like TikToker @studioseela did in her video below.
Bonus: More dentist-recommended ways to brighten teeth
If you want more permanent whitening, check out these options:
The best at-home remedies for a whiter smile
For plaque buildup: Rub teeth with certain fruit peels
Dr. Tasios suggests taking a fruit peel, like a banana or an orange peel, and rub it flesh side down over teeth for two minutes before brushing. The citric acid in these peels aids in whitening teeth, she says, and the rubbing motions removes tooth-dulling plaque buildup “However, too much citric acid can destroy enamel so this shouldn’t be done daily and those with sensitive teeth shouldn’t do this,” she cautions.
For mild surface stains: Whip up a hydrogen peroxide paste
“Hydrogen peroxide in whitening toothpastes accelerates the process of breaking up the surface stains on teeth to make them appear brighter,” says Dr. Kantor. He says you can make a homemade paste with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. “This cleans surface stains, kills bacteria that sits on the teeth and makes them stay whiter.”
To create your own hydrogen peroxide toothpaste, mix 2 tsp. of hydrogen peroxide and 3 tsp. of baking soda. Brush onto teeth for 2 minutes, then rinse. “You can do this every day — morning and/or night — just the same as you would use any other toothpaste,” says Dr. Kantor.
The best over-the-counter whitening products
Colgate Optic White Platinum High Impact White Toothpaste (Buy from Walmart, $8.18)
Dr. Kantor likes this toothpaste, which contains 3% hydrogen peroxide to effectively and gently brighten teeth by strengthening the enamel and removing surface stains.
Crest Whitestrips (Buy from CVS, $24.49)
Dr. Kessler recommends these whitening strips for a better whitening result. They also contain hydrogen peroxide and leave teeth looking up to 8 levels brighter after 10 days of daily use.
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