What is teeth whitening and how does it work?
Teeth whitening is the restoration of the tooth’s natural color, or in many cases teeth whitening extends past the tooth’s natural shade. Discoloration of the tooth occurs naturally over time and the degree to which someone’s teeth discolor is based around their lifestyle. For example, if you’re a coffee drinker, chances are that you’ll have darker stained teeth than someone who does not. However there are ways to bring back your teeth’s healthy white color, so don’t go giving up coffee just yet.
99.7% of people say that an attractive smile is an important personal asset.
There are two types of “staining” that occur on teeth and each type of staining has a different solution for improving the whiteness of your smile.
Extrinsic Staining - Surface Stains
The first type of staining that occurs is known as extrinsic staining (think exterior or on the outside.) The food we eat – the sugary drinks – can cause of a buildup of plaque to occur on teeth. This plaque sticks to your teeth like no one’s business. Overtime, this plaque can become stained by other food and drinks that we consume. The stain is most easily and affordably addressed by proper tooth brushing. “Whitening” toothpastes don’t chemically whiten teeth – that is, they do not contain any bleaching agent. The term “whitening” toothpaste refers to the addition of abrasive material that helps remove these surface stains. The abrasives used in toothpaste include charcoal, silica (sand), baking soda, and mica. The use of abrasive ingredients in toothpaste help to remove surface stains by scrubbing plaque off the surface of teeth. This should be the first step for anyone that’s looking to whiten the appearance of their teeth – and it’s typically the easiest way to do so.
Intrinsic Staining - Deep Stains
Once you’ve scrubbed the plaque off of your teeth, you’ll be ready for the next phase of teeth whitening, which addresses the deep stains within your teeth known as intrinsic stains. This type of staining is a direct result of both aging and lifestyle choices. Red wine, coffee, tobacco use, tea, and dark sodas can all lead to tooth discoloration which take place beneath the surface of your teeth.
In order to reach these stains, a bleaching agent such as hydrogen or carbamide peroxide must be used. Each bleaching agent needs time to penetrate deep into the teeth and for the whitening reaction to take place. Whitening teeth this way comes in several different forms – strips, trays, gels, and pens. These treatments can be performed at-home or in a dental professional’s office, however, these costs vary greatly.
To learn more about which products you should use for each stain, read "Which Whitening is Right for Me?"
If you have any questions that you’d like to have answered, contact us or leave a comment and we’ll feature your question in our next blog.