The Science Behind Teeth Whitening: What You Need to Know

Are you curious about the science behind teeth whitening? If so, you're not alone. Many people are interested in understanding how whitening products work and what they can do for their smiles. Hydrogen peroxide and its close relative, carbamide peroxide, are the two main ingredients used in teeth whitening products. These substances penetrate the enamel and oxidize the dark pigmented molecules within the hard tooth structure itself.

This process literally whitens the underlying color of the tooth to a whiter shade. The active ingredient in whitening gels is hydrogen peroxide, which removes stains and is then safely absorbed by the body. Most over-the-counter whitening products use low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, while cosmetic dentists use higher concentrations for faster and more effective results. The characteristics of the patient's dentition also influence the safe provision of care and the level of success of treatment to whiten vital teeth. Sometimes, this whitening agent is activated with a stimulating force like a light. Once the agent enters the pores of the enamel and begins to react with oxygen, it undergoes a chemical reaction.

This breaks down the staining compounds and removes them from the enamel. Because the teeth are porous, the whitening gel is absorbed by the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth. Teeth whitening methods include sanding stains, whitening, ultraviolet (UV) light therapy, and more. Brightside Family Dental is proud to help patients whiten and brighten their smiles with Ultradent's Opalescence BOOST in-office whitening kits. A mouth guard can keep the whitening agent on the teeth to increase its absorption and limit the amount of the whitening solution that comes into contact with gyms. In general, the addition of LED lights to whitening procedures has improved the effectiveness of whitening agents, allowing for brighter, whiter smiles.

Gingival irritation can result from contact with peroxide-based gels when using whitening strips or any gel-based whitening product. A variety of over-the-counter options are available with products that include toothpastes, whitening strips, and gels painted directly on the teeth or delivered in trays. If your front teeth have veneers, adhesives, or crowns on them, then the way to whiten them is to replace that dental treatment with a lighter shade. Even if the whitening gel is only on the teeth for a limited period of time, it will still be effective for the first 24 hours after application. Teeth whitening pens are thin plastic tubes that contain gel to remove tooth stains caused by foods and beverages, such as coffee and red wine. Home whitening kits can take the form of a gel or paste that is applied to the teeth with a brush or in the form of adhesive strips.

Some teeth whitening methods can cause uncomfortable side effects, in particular tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. If you've never tried to whitewash yourself but have spent years awash in bleaching advertising, you're probably skeptical of the claims that are being made. However, when done correctly under professional supervision, teeth whitening can be an effective way to brighten your smile.

Graham Martin
Graham Martin

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