The short answer is yes—electric toothbrushes can help brighten your teeth and give you a white smile. Some models even have a whitening mode! We’ll get into the specifics below.
How white your teeth look is due to a wide range of factors, such as: what you eat, your oral health habits, the medications you’re taking, and the natural color of your teeth. Clearly, there’s a lot going on, and not all of these things are totally in your control.
Below we’ll walk you through:
- The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic teeth stains
- How exactly electric toothbrushes can help to remove surface stains
- The main causes of yellow teeth stains
What Causes Teeth Stains (or Yellow Teeth)?
As mentioned, there are some teeth stains that are caused by your own doing, and others that you cannot help. Anything listed in lifestyle stains can often be buffed off by a dentist, or even just by using a power toothbrush. Those in the non-lifestyle bucket, unfortunately. can't be removed naturally—they require some sort of cosmetic treatment.
- Examples of lifestyle teeth stains: consuming dark pigmented food and drinks, smoking, or not brushing properly/enough.
- Examples of non-lifestyle teeth stains: taking certain medications (like tetracycline), illness/disease, overexposure to fluoride, or existing tooth damage/decay.
Two Types of Stains: Intrinsic and Extrinsic
Teeth stains are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have both types at once, though!
- Extrinsic stains are on the surface of your teeth, mainly caused by lifestyle choices that are within your control. These types of stains can often be removed fairly easily with a toothbrush or basic teeth whitening. Anything that requires a bit more gusto can be dealt with by your dentist.
- Intrinsic stains are below the surface of your teeth, often within your tooth enamel. These types of stains are caused by non-lifestyle choices (things that are out of your control). These types of stains are more permanent, and will not respond to the same methods that extrinsic stains will.
Can Electric Toothbrushes Help Remove Stains?
Yes, electric toothbrushes can help to remove stains on your teeth... but only extrinsic ones. Any intrinsic stains will need to be treated by cosmetic means, such as in-office whitening, which often only covers up the stain and does not actually remove it.
Maybe you’re an avid coffee drinker, or enjoy a good beet forward smoothie—no judgements here—your teeth can take on these dark pigments, causing surface (extrinsic) stains. Power toothbrushes can help to scrub these stains off with their quick, oscillating movements. You can technically remove teeth stains with a manual toothbrush as well, but it will take you longer.
Where a manual averages around 200 brush strokes per minute (relying on your own human power), the best electric toothbrushes, like Brüush, will get you 31,000 brush strokes in the same time. That’s a HUGE difference. For tips on how to properly use a power toothbrush, check out our quick guide.
Do Whitening Toothpaste & Whitening Brush Heads Work?
Whitening toothpaste can in fact whiten your teeth, but it will not change the natural color of your teeth. Some people are born with brighter teeth, and thicker tooth enamel—just like some people are born with anatomically straight teeth and will never require braces or aligners. But hey, every smile is beautiful! And there are ways to improve your teeth color.
What whitening toothpaste can do is remove stains left from food and beverages, giving you an overall brighter smile. What’s the difference between regular toothpaste and whitening toothpaste?
- Whitening toothpaste will often have some sort of special abrasives which work to gently polish the teeth
- It may also have chemicals like peroxide which help dissolve or break down surface stains
- And some whitening toothpastes contain a chemical called blue covarine that adheres to teeth, creating an optical illusion that makes your teeth appear less yellow
Various battery powered toothbrush brands also sell whitening brush heads, which have a polishing cup in the centre of the brush head. This is designed to mimic the effect of a professional dental tool, and is found to be effective at removing stains.
So, take a good look at your teeth and determine why they’re not as white as you’d like them to be. Some things you may be able to control, while others will require an actual whitening treatment—whether that be at home whitening strips, or a cosmetic dental procedure.
What Causes Extrinsic Yellow Teeth Stains?
We’ve mentioned a few reasons above, but we’ll dig in further here. There are many reasons why your teeth may be stained a yellow, grey or brown hue. From certain foods and drinks, to smoking and poor dental hygiene, these lifestyle choices are some of the main teeth staining culprits:
The things you drink on the daily can produce extrinsic stains on your teeth. We’re talking all of these darkly pigmented goodies:
- Red wine
- Tea (particularly black tea)
- Grape, blueberry, cranberry, tomato, or beet juice
TIP: Try rinsing your mouth out after consuming any of these beverages to wash away any lingering particles.
2) High-Sugar Diet or Processed Foods
A diet that is high in starch, sugar, or processed foods can actually lead to tooth decay. How? These sneaky foods break down into simple sugars, and can get cozy in your mouth. Bacteria love sugars and actually produce acid, which can lead to tooth decay.
Some examples of high-sugar, processed foods are:
- Candy and chocolate bars
- Refined, white bread
- Processed lunch meats
3) Smoking and Chewing Tobacco
By now you should know that smoking and chewing tobacco is bad for your overall health. It also happens to be bad for your ORAL health. Smokers are found to be 3-6x more likely to develop gum disease or periodontal disease, and of course are putting themselves at risk of getting lung, throat, and mouth cancer (to name a few).
It’s actually the tar or nicotine in tobacco that can cause teeth stains and yellowing. So, think twice before you reach for that cigarette, vape, or chewing tobacco.
4) Fluoride & Mouthwash
The stuff that’s supposed to be good for our teeth can actually stain them?! Yes, unfortunately there have been studies which show that both fluoride and mouthwash can stain your teeth.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, many mouthwashes on the market “are highly artificial concoctions that contain sweeteners for taste and artificial colorings for a bright hue that separates them from their competitors or creates variety within a brand.” And when it comes to chemical ingredients like chlorhexidine and nanoparticle-containing mouthwashes, these can actually create brown stains on both the teeth and gums.
5) Poor Oral Hygiene Habits
Needless to say, not brushing your teeth enough/properly can lead to surface stains, along with a whole bunch of other mouth issues. Flossing is also a key component in a good oral health routine and shouldn’t be overlooked!
Here are some quick oral health tips:
- Brush once in the morning for 2 minutes, and once at night (or 3 if you’re using a manual brush) for optimal plaque removal and freshness
- Make sure to floss daily (with standard floss, a water flosser, or a waterpik), and do it before you brush your teeth
- Change out your toothbrush head or manual brush every 2-3 months
- Schedule regular dentist visits every 6 months to 1 year
Brushing is Easier and More Effective With an Electric Toothbrush
If you’ve ever used a rechargeable electric toothbrush before, or compared it to a manual one, you’ll know that brushing is much easier and more effective. When using a manual brush, you’re limited to the power of your hand/arm, at an average of 200 brush strokes a minute. An electric toothbrush like Brüush has 31,000 brush strokes a minute and soft bristles made from nylon to give you a much better clean. You also have 6 brushing modes to choose from, like Gentle for those with tooth sensitivity, or White for extra vibrations and scrubbing power.
Electric brushes also help to reinforce good brushing habits. For example, the Brüush power toothbrush has a built in 2 minute timer with a quadrapacer that lets you know when to move to the next area of your mouth. Overbrushing can lead to gum recession and damage, whereas underbrushing can leave behind bacteria on your teeth. So, brushing for just the right amount of time in a uniform manner can drastically improve your oral health.
So, keep your mouth happy, help remove those extrinsic surface stains, and get a whiter smile with an electric toothbrush!