In a world filled with over the counter whitening treatments and teeth whitening toothpaste, the most effective form of teeth whitening treatment still comes from your dentist. Not only do dentists have technology at their disposal, but they are also experts in creating great smiles.
If you are considering teeth whitening treatment and want to know how does teeth whitening work then you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’re going to delve into the science behind professional whitening treatments and take a closer look at what you can do to prolong the effect.
The Makeup Of Tooth Enamel
You probably know that teeth enamel is one of the hardest substances in the body. What you might not know is that if you look at teeth enamel under a microscope you’ll see that it’s actually porous. Tooth enamel is made up of millions of tightly packed crystal structures known as rods and because they’re tightly packed, they appear (to the naked eye at least) to form a rigid and smooth surface area.
More importantly, contained within these crystal rods are millions of organic molecules. They reflect light and are what gives a natural tooth it’s distinct translucent appearance.
When we partake in certain beverages and foods, particularly those that contain chemical compounds such as chromogens or tannins, they can seep through the rods and attach themselves to the light reflecting molecules, effectively blocking off the light. This is what causes teeth staining.
So How Does Professional Teeth Whitening Work?
In essence, professional teeth whitening utilities two chemicals to whiten teeth. These are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide – the latter of which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide when applied to the teeth anyway.
When hydrogen peroxide is applied to the teeth it penetrates the enamel and attacks the stain-inducing chemical compounds in a process known as oxidation.
As it does so, it effectively breaks down the compounds that are attached to the organic molecules allowing the molecules to reflect light once again. This is what gives teeth their whiter, brighter appearance.
So Do All Whitening Treatments Work The Same Way?
Yes and no…
Take teeth whitening treatments such as whitening toothpaste, for example. These are purely an abrasive and work by removing any staining that lies on the surface of the teeth. What whitening toothpaste can’t do is to penetrate beneath the surface and remove underlying staining.
What About Teeth Whitening Kits You Buy Over The Counter?
These do often work the same way as professional teeth whitening treatment in that they contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The difference is that they contain lower concentrations. They also contain a whole host of other ingredients such as flavorings and ingredients that help prevent tooth sensitivity. The result is that you can expect store-bought teeth whitening kits to take weeks to achieve results rather than days when you undergo professional teeth whitening.
Why Visit Your Dentist For Whitening Treatments
They have the skills to quickly evaluate whether it is safe to undergo the process. It could be that you have cavities or a problematic tooth which may cause heightened sensitivity when the bleaching formula is applied. Either way, your dentist can look to solve the problem first –or at the very least, make you aware of the issue, before you go ahead.
In addition, some people don’t realize that dental restorations cannot be whitened. Because crowns and fillings are made from artificial materials they don’t react to staining in the same way as your natural teeth. If you are concerned about the discoloration of your crowns, your dentist can recommend some great alternatives that will improve the look of your smile.
So now you know the answer to the question ‘how does teeth whitening work’…
What Can You Do To Prolong The Teeth Whitening Effect?
Typically, professional whitening treatments last for around 9-12 months but this does depend upon food and beverage choices and lifestyle habits such as smoking. If you are an avid coffee addict, for example, or a heavy smoker, then you can expect the whitening effect to fade much sooner.
When consuming stain-inducing foods and beverages such as curry, berries, tomato sauce, red wine or soda, consider brushing your teeth immediately afterwards. Alternatively, drink beverages like soda through a straw where possible. Finally, practice good oral hygiene habits like daily brushing and flossing.
If you aren’t happy with your faded smile, then talk to our team about professional chair-side teeth whitening. Call Beyond 32 Dental today on 02 9158 6334 and get the bright white smile that is waiting for you.