Have you noticed that your teeth look a little duller these days? Have they lost their bright white color over time? You might be interested in a tooth-whitening treatment that removes stains and discoloration from the surface of your teeth. Available as both at-home kits and in-office procedures, tooth whitening treatments are more effective and comfortable than ever. But, you might be wondering, how does teeth whitening work?
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
First, it’s important to note that several different factors affect the color of your teeth. Genetics plays a big role in the natural color of your teeth — some people simply have whiter teeth than other people — but lifestyle choices can greatly impact that natural color. For example, if you often consume foods and beverages that can stain your teeth, such as soda, coffee, red wine, and tea, you may notice your teeth becoming darker. Smoking also affects the color of your teeth. Less common causes of discoloration include tooth trauma and certain medications (like the antibiotic tetracycline). And, of course, it’s common for teeth to become less white with age.
Although a variety of different teeth-whitening methods are available, not all of them are safe. To protect your oral health, it’s important to use a method recommended by your dentist. At Wilkinson Dental, we use Opalescence, a safe and scientifically proven whitening system.
Opalescence’s gel-filled trays use either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide as the whitening agent. Both of these chemicals are natural bleaching agents. Their active oxygen molecules are able to penetrate the tooth enamel and react with the discolored molecules located there. This causes the active oxygen molecules to spread, whitening the teeth without harming the enamel. Over-the-counter products tend to contain lower concentrations of whitening agents, which is why it’s best to visit your dentist if you want a quicker transformation. If you stick with at-home methods, the treatment will take longer to reach the same final result.
Finally, keep in mind that people’s teeth vary in structure. If your enamel is quite porous, your teeth may be prone to staining when you consume pigmented foods and drinks. If your enamel readily absorbs bleaching agents, you might be able to get whiter teeth than someone with less absorbent enamel. And, of course, some people simply have whiter teeth due to genetics. If your teeth have never been especially white, you can’t expect a teeth-whitening treatment to give you perfect pearly whites.
What about abrasive whitening products?
We focused this article on teeth-whitening treatments that use chemical bleaching because they’re more commonly recommended by dentists, but you can also find products that rely on physical abrasion, such as whitening toothpaste. These products have a gritty texture that physically files away stains on the surface of the teeth. Although these products are also safe and effective, it’s important that you avoid scrubbing your teeth too vigorously or for too long. The gritty particles can wear down your enamel, which will counteract your whitening efforts. If you wear down the enamel too much, the dentin underneath (which is yellowy brown) will start to show through, making your teeth look less white.
If you’re looking for a tooth-whitening toothpaste, be sure to choose one with an ADA seal so that you know it’s safe and effective. You could also ask your dentist for recommendations.
Looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist to whiten your teeth? If you live in or near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. We offer Opalescence teeth whitening treatments, in-office procedures as well as take-home trays. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!