How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Teeth whitening is an incredibly popular cosmetic dental treatment for two reasons. First, it’s one of the most affordable cosmetic treatments available. Secondly, it’s effective and the results are, if not immediate, then very swift. So how does teeth whitening work? And what options are available for getting a brighter, whiter smile? Read on for everything to know about teeth whitening.

Teeth Whitening Breaks Up Stains

Teeth whitening is also called teeth bleaching. You may be surprised to find that it works much in the same way as bleaching clothing, for example. In the case of bleaching your clothing, the active ingredient, chlorine, eliminates stains by breaking down chemical bonds through a process called oxidation. Teeth whitening or bleaching works in the same way. But, in the case of teeth bleaching, the active whitening ingredients are forms of peroxide (hydrogen and carbamide).

Peroxide penetrates the outer layer of the teeth (enamel), to break up stains through oxidation.  In breaking up the stains, the brighter, whiter color is revealed. So, although you’re technically changing the color of your teeth, in actuality, teeth whitening is removing stains so the teeth are restored to their previous lighter, brighter shade.  

3 Types of Teeth Whitening Treatments

For the fastest results, teeth whitening at your dentist’s office is the way to go. Your dentist will use a solution with higher concentrations of active ingredients to whiten your teeth. A specialized light is also used to enhance the results and expedite the treatment. If you opt for in-office teeth whitening,a system called ZOOM . Your gums and lips will be protected. Then a gel or varnish will be applied to the teeth. The light will shine on the teeth for 15-20 minutes. You may repeat this cycle three times. Within about an hour you’ll leave the office with noticeably whiter teeth.

Dental grade take-home teeth whitening kits are also effective at whitening your teeth. However, it can take weeks to get your final results.  Take-home teeth whitening kits are less expensive than in-office whitening, and you can use the trays and gel at your convenience. You are responsible for ensuring that you protect the soft tissues of the lips and gums from the bleaching agent..,

Over-the-counter whitening products are the least effective, and they aren’t always less expensive than dental-grade products you can get from your dentist. Over-the-counter whitening pastes, strips, etc., have a lower concentration of the whitening agent. Although you may get some results from these products, the results will be subtler than results from professional-grade products.  

Pros and Cons of Teeth Whitening

The benefit of teeth whitening is a brighter, whiter smile. This can contribute to improved self-esteem, and feeling more comfortable laughing, talking, and smiling. Some patients feel a greater sense of self-confidence from having their teeth whitened. 

The potential downside of teeth whitening is increased sensitivity.  If you have naturally sensitive teeth, talk with your dentist about whitening. It may not be the best option.  Fortunately, there are a variety of other cosmetic dental treatments that can give you a brilliant white smile as well. You may be a candidate for porcelain dental veneers, for example. Cosmetic dental bonding may also improve your smile. If you only have a couple of teeth that are noticeably stained, your dentist may consider dental crowns to improve your smile.

Get a Beautiful, Bright Smile in Westport, CT

Imperial Dental Associates provides comprehensive cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry in Westport, CT.  As a Google 5-Star reviewed dental practice serving patients from Westport, Fairfield, New Canaan, Trumbull, Wilton, Weston, and surrounding communities, Imperial Dental Associates offers appointments on alternating Saturdays to best accommodate busy patients and their families. Send us a message or call 203-227-2520 to schedule your appointment.