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Yes, whitening your teeth can weaken them

“Yellow teeth are stronger, the natural color of our teeth is a yellow color,” reads text on a graphic posted on the Facebook page “Chemistry Facts”. “Whitening your teeth can permanently weaken them.”

Most adults have 32 teeth. Tooth whitening can be done at home with certain toothpastes, or by a dentist. 

But does the process weaken your teeth? We asked a dental expert. 


Natural tooth colour differs

Africa Check spoke to Prof Elaine Blignaut, a dental surgeon at Wits Health Consortium in South Africa, about the claim. 

“The natural tooth colour is genetically determined and differs between individuals,” Blignaut said. “Foods and drinks can discolour teeth, despite regular brushing. With age, teeth can become more yellow.”

An excess intake of fluoride in early childhood, when permanent teeth are forming, results in brown, mottled – but very strong – teeth. Fluoride is a mineral found in water and added to tap water in some countries

“But teeth discoloured by external factors such as food and drinks are not stronger than other naturally white teeth,” Blignaut said.

Whitening teeth can make them weaker 

She added: “Many whitening agents are acidic and acids dissolve tooth structure.”

This can make teeth weaker but, before that occurs, a person would have tooth sensitivity, a normal side effect of the whitening process. 

“If you have whitened teeth and you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, fluoride should be applied to decrease the sensitivity,” Blignaut advised.

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