If you’re wondering how does teeth whitening work, it isn’t worth buying an over-the-counter whitening kit to find out. The best results are achieved with professional teeth whitening treatments because they can be customized to your specific needs. Let’s have a closer look at how professional whitening works – and why you shouldn’t waste your time with at-home treatments.
When Tooth Discolouration Goes Beneath The Surface
There are two types of stains to know about when it comes to teeth whitening: intrinsic stains and extrinsic stains. Extrinsic stains are those caused by drinking lots of coffee or cola but intrinsic stains are caused by discolouration of the dentin inside your tooth enamel. The only way to access this dentin is by using professional-grade bleaching agents.
So How Do Whitening Treatments Work?
When the bleaching agent penetrates your teeth (or is activated by a blue laser, depending on the product) it breaks up into its molecular components.
The oxygen molecules break up the stains inside the dentin, and they are flushed away.
If you have an in-chair treatment, your dentist will paint the bleaching agent onto your teeth and leave it on for around 15 minutes before removing it.
The process may be repeated until your desired shade of white is achieved.
How Much Do Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments Cost?
The good news is there is a tooth whitening solution for every budget – and just because it is professional doesn’t mean you can’t afford it. In-chair teeth whitening costs more than take-home trays but can give you a whiter, brighter smile in just 45-60 minutes. Should you wish to whiten at home you will be given a set of custom-built trays that you will dispense whitening gel into and wear for a set period of time every day. This method may take a little longer to show results but is usually more affordable.
What About Whitening Toothpaste?
Whitening toothpastes tend to contain abrasive substances which, while they may be able to remove extrinsic stains, cannot penetrate your tooth enamel to bleach yellowing or discolored teeth.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Over-The-Counter Products
Over-the counter whitening strips and kits just aren’t strong enough to whiten your smile. Whitening kits and strips might work on the flat surface of your teeth, but often do not measure up around the sides because they are not custom-created (like whitening trays would be if you visited your dentist).
Remember that by law, and for safety reasons, only a registered medical or dental professional may administer teeth whitening solutions with more than 6% hydrogen peroxide. Your dentist may use whitening bleaches with up to 30% hydrogen peroxide, meaning you can look forward to more noticeable results, in a shorter space of time. Consulting someone unregistered or trying to whiten your own teeth (even using kitchen ingredients like lemon juice, baking soda or charcoal) can cause irreparable damage to the enamel of your teeth.