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How does teeth whitening work?

How does teeth whitening work?

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Medically reviewed by: Dr Shan Lam BDS (Bris)

how does teeth whitening work
Every tooth whitening product uses the same basic science to achieve results. Tooth discolouration is caused by large pigment and stain molecules that become trapped inside the tooth’s structure (the larger the molecules, the darker the teeth appear).

All Teeth Whitening Gels such as Hydrogen or Carbamide peroxide penetrate the teeth and cause a reaction called oxidation, which breaks down the stain compounds and lifts them out of the enamel. 
Under a microscope, you can see that the hard outer layer of a tooth, called enamel, is made up of a tightly packed crystal structure called rods. While this layer seems solid and smooth to the naked eye, it’s possible for the stain molecules to settle deep into the enamel by seeping between the rods. In order to remove stains and whiten teeth, dentists use a bleaching agent that can get down to where the stains are and break up them up using a chemical reaction.

Whitening Toothpastes

whitening toothpastes work by removing surface stains on teeth, not the ones under the surface deep inside the structure. They do this by being more abrasive than other toothpastes, which is why your dentist may discourage you from using whitening toothpastes if you have complained of tooth sensitivity. More than anything, toothpastes are good for preventing stains, not actuyally removing them or whitening your teeth.

Teeth Whitening Treatments

Treatment by anyone other than a trained dental professional is illegal. You can guarantee a qualified dental practitioner will use legal, controlled chemicals that have been deemed safe by all regulatory bodies with no risk of irreparable damage to your enamel. No burnt and blistered gums. And most importantly, you get support and guidance. Not only when choosing the best treatment option for you, but throughout the process and with an appropriate maintenance regime too.

 

Types of teeth

At-Home Whitening

Typically, we offer two different ingredients for our at-home teeth whitening treatments.

Carbamide Peroxide– this includes added stabilisers, which allows for longer contact time, making it ideal for night-time wear.

Or

Hydrogen Peroxide – which has a starting wear time of just 30mins; means it’s perfect for day-time whitening and accelerated laser teeth whitening. (While speculation is rife that the whitening ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, will ‘weaken your enamel’ there is actually little evidence to support the concern.)

 

In-Surgery Whitening 

If speed is your driving force should you consider laser teeth whitening? The light speeds up the reaction of the whitening product and the colour change can be achieved more quickly. Philips ZOOM professional to make teeth up to five or six shades lighter in just 45minutes – you could even sneak it into your lunch break!

What you SHOULDN’T do

  • Buy unregulated gels or strips online.
  • Use bicarbonate of soda & lemon juice! Acid + Abrasion = Bad News! You really will scrub your enamel away and it will not return.
  • Seek teeth whitening treatment from beauty salons, not only does this pose a huge risk to the health of your enamel and gums, it’s also illegal.

Considerations & Concerns

It’s important that you fully understand the procedure, the potential result, what it will involve and what it will require from you before you consider intrinsic whitening of your dentine and enamel. We offer Free Whitening consultations for you to find out more!

Complications such as Tetracycline staining and fluorosis will pose more of a challenge and reaction to treatment will vary from person to person. Therefore, no guarantees should ever be given. A specialist, experienced prediction should consider not only your starting shade but, the health of your enamel.

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