Your Toothpaste or Mouthwash Might Actually Be Staining Your Teeth

Next time you go toothpaste or mouthwash shopping, make sure you avoid these ingredients!

One of the first things that people notice about you is your smile—and that likely includes your teeth. It seems that everyone strives for pearly whites, and will buy any product that promises brighter teeth. The only problem? Not all toothpastes and mouthwashes are as beneficial as you’d think. In fact, some of them may actually be staining your teeth.

“This staining is due in part to two ingredients; cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), an antibacterial, and stannous fluoride, a remineralization ingredient,” says Benjamin Lawlor, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Portland, ME. “The reason why this happens is in the way the CPC kills bacteria. CPC kills bacteria and dislodges them from the tooth. As they are being swished away, they can re-adhere to the tooth or collect in areas of the mouth—usually near the gums or on a ledge. The bacteria continue to die leaving brown stains wherever they are,” Dr. Lawlor continues. “Stannous fluoride can [also] stain because it has a chemical compound which includes molecules of tin. This metal can adhere to the teeth in the right conditions and cause extrinsic staining.”

Does your toothpaste contain CPC?

Fortunately, most toothpastes and mouthwashes have a warning on their label if they contain these chemicals. Since CPC has caused so many complaints, most manufacturers have now opted to switch out CPC for essential oils, which are proven to be just as effective as CPC. (You can also use essential oils to sleep better, calm anxiety, lose weight, treat acne, and so much more. Ready to get started? Here are 10 things you need to know about essential oils.)

Another ingredient to avoid when buying mouthwash is alcohol. “Alcohol-based mouthwashes actually tend to dehydrate the mouth,” says Chris Kammer, DDS a founding father of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health in Madison, WI. “In turn, drier conditions are a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Better to use an alcohol-free mouth rinse with xylitol, such as Spry, which actually stimulates saliva production to help wash away the bad stagnant bacteria.” (Some dentists even say mouthwash is one of the 6 products that are a waste of money.)

However, it’s important to note that your toothpaste and mouthwash may not be the only culprits for the browning of your teeth. Here are 7 reasons you might be staining your teeth.

Sources
  • Benjamin Lawlor, DDS, cosmetic dentist, Portland, ME.
  • Chris Kammer, DDS, founding father of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health, Madison, WI.
Medically reviewed by Susanne Jackson, DDS, on September 06, 2019

Brittany was a digital editorial intern for Reader's Digest and now contributes to RD.com as a freelance writer. Her stories have been picked up by Yahoo, AOL, MSN, INSIDER, Business Insider, Best Health, and other websites. In addition to writing for RD.com, she has also written for Westchester Magazine and uloop.com.