MIAMI (CBS4) — Tooth whitening toothpastes can make your pearly whites shine but sometimes it can have the opposite effect.

Teeth whitening mania is obvious in the toothpaste aisle, but if you use these products too often, and too vigorously, it could wear away the outer layer of enamel on your tooth and expose the yellowish dentin beneath which actually makes your teeth look less white.

Palmetto Bay’s Joseph Semaan is an avid coffee drinker and said he has tried everything to get that bright smile.

“It kind of hurts your gums,” said Semaan.

Sometimes whitening toothpastes can affect your gum’s sensitivity.

Dentist Rita Dargham explained they can affect your enamel because of the abrasive material in the product.

“The toothpaste carries a sand particle that actually is abrading the enamel,” said Dr. Dargham.

A study that recently came out in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry tested the abrasiveness and cleaning power of 26 whitening toothpastes.

Anything with an RDA, (Relative Dentin Abrasion) score of about 100 is generally considered highly abrasive. Anything above 150 is considered potentially damaging to enamel.

Here’s how some of the popular whitening toothpastes stacked up:

  • Crest White Vivid scored above 200.
  • Rembrandt Intense Stains was only mildly abrasive with an RDA of 90.
  • Ultrabrite Advanced Whitening from Colgate had an RDA of 260, one of the most abrasive.

“As long as there is no overzealous use and irresponsible use of the product the enamel is fine,” said Dr. Dargham. She also said people often over brush and use too much toothpaste.

So how much should you use? Surprisingly, the amount of a pea and only twice a day.

After learning the proper techniques, Joseph is no longer concerned about any side effects of whitening and he’s still drinking his coffee.

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