Boasting pearly white teeth can boost your confidence, make you look younger, and improve your smile for special occasions. Plus, it’s a virtually painless, quick procedure. No surgery required! It’s no wonder then that teeth whitening is the most popular and frequently requested cosmetic procedure at your dentist’s office (source). Still, you might be wondering, “How does teeth whitening work?”
Reasons to Whiten Your Teeth
Teeth whitening is relatively inexpensive when compared to other cosmetic procedures. There are several over-the-counter remedies that produce satisfactory results, but none are safer or more effective than the whitening achieved at your dentist’s office. Most patients ask about teeth whitening for one of the following reasons:
- It removes stains. Teeth whitening can remove stains caused by soda, coffee, smoking, wine, and other foods.
- It may help you prepare for a special occasion. First impressions matter. That’s why many people whiten their teeth before special events, like weddings, job interviews, and class reunions.
- It can boost your confidence. A bright smile can help build self-esteem. Achieving whiter teeth may give you more confidence in your overall appearance.
- It can help you look and feel younger. A whiter smile is often associated with youth. The natural aging process can cause discoloration and make your teeth look old and unhealthy, even if they’re not. Teeth whitening can bring back a more youthful-looking smile.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
As you eat and drink, leftover residue and bacteria create a film that covers your enamel. Brushing and flossing regularly can help remove this surface-level film. However, your enamel is porous. Over time, staining agents work their way down into your teeth, where you can’t simply scour them away. The result is an unattractive stain that over-the-counter products may or may not be able to remove evenly.
So how does teeth whitening work? Basically, whiteners use bleaching chemicals to get down into the tooth enamel and set off a chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation breaks apart the staining compounds deep in the pores of your enamel for a whiter smile (source).
The whitening compounds used by dentists are stronger than over-the-counter compounds and specially formulated to reduce tooth sensitivity. Plus, you can rest assured knowing that your dentist’s products are ADA-approved. There are two main procedures your dentist may recommend to whiten your smile: in-office whitening and tray whitening.
The in-office procedure involves controlled, immediate whitening. To start, your dentist gently cleans your teeth with pumice and places a protective barrier on your gums. He or she will then place hydrogen peroxide paste on your teeth for several minutes, rinse it off, and reapply as needed. After only one 40-minute treatment, this procedure can achieve about four to six shades of whitening (source).
In contrast, tray whitening is a gradual process. To begin this procedure, your dentist will take impressions of your mouth. He or she will then have soft, custom mouth trays made for you. To administer the treatment, you put a thin ribbon of professional whitening gel into your tray and wear it for a set period during the day or overnight. Most whitening occurs in the first week or two. But in difficult cases, you may need to wear trays for up to six weeks.
Patients with decayed teeth, infected gums, or colored crowns on their front teeth may not be good candidates for teeth whitening. At Duff Family Dental, our dentists can examine your teeth and recommend a product that will work for you. We offer safe, effective teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry, and more. With our experienced team of dental professionals, you can relax knowing that you’re in good hands. If you’re interested in our teeth whitening services, you can schedule an appointment online or call us today at 417-501-8601. We look forward to hearing from you!