How does teeth whitening work?

These days, people are more conscious about how their teeth appear when they smile. As a result, many prefer to choose teeth whitening as a solution to clear away stains formed due to food, cigarette smoke, coffee, etc.

                                            Teeth whitening before and after

Teeth whitening can work by bleaching your teeth to make them look lighter. It won’t make your teeth brilliantly white but will lighten the existing colour down by several grades.

The basics of Teeth Whitening

You teeth consist of an inner dentin layer and a hard outer enamel layer. These layers protect our teeth from all the harsh materials that go into our mouth. While, substances from food, alcohol, cigarette, smoke, soft and hot drinks etc. can create another outer layer on top of the enamel layer. This is when you’ll need the help of a dentist who can clean away this film, through scraping and chemical treatments.

Although brushing your teeth with abrasive toothpaste can knock out some of it, you cannot completely get rid of it. The problem is, as this pellicle layer sits on your teeth for years and years, the foreign material gets into the enamel. As your enamel layer is made up of hydroxyapatite crystals which are of penetrable nature, these staining agents can work their way down into the tooth.  And you can’t simply scour them away. The deeper stains are basically harmless, but many people find them unattractive. This is when teeth whitening can play its role.

How is teeth whitening done?

Only a registered dental professional can do teeth whitening. Because whitening by people who aren’t qualified, for example in beauty salons, is illegal. Kits that carry teeth whitening agents to do it at home also carry risks.

Your dentist will advise you whether whitening is right for you. It may be that teeth whitening isn’t suitable if you have gum disease, crowns, dentures, fillings or veneers. The whitening procedure requires you to make several visits to the dental surgery over a couple of months. The whiteners use bleaching chemicals (Carbamide peroxide or hydrogen perox) to get down into the tooth enamel and set off a chemical reaction (specifically, an oxidation reaction) that breaks apart the staining compounds.

Before starting the treatment your dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a mouth guard, and will instruct you on how to use it with a bleaching gel. Then, using your mouth guard at home, you regularly apply the gel for a specified period of time over 2 to 4 weeks. Some whitening gels can be left on for up to 8 hours at a time, which shortens the treatment period to 1 week.

Teeth Whitening with Laser

Laser whitening or power whitening is another type of teeth whitening system that a dentist can provide you. During this treatment, a bleaching product is painted onto your teeth and then a light or laser is shone on them to activate the whitening. It may take about an hour to complete the Laser whitening procedure.

However, teeth whitening isn’t permanent. It can last from a few months to up to 3 years, and this varies from person to person. If you continue to smoke or drink strong liquids such as red wine, tea or coffee which can all stain your teeth, the whitening effect won’t last as long as you may think.

To know more about Teeth Whitening, Please click here.

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