All Smiles Family Dentistry

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure. The purpose of teeth whitening treatment is to remove stains and reverse tooth discoloration and yellowing caused by aging, food and drink, nicotine, trauma, and some medications.  Results will differ depending on the condition of the teeth.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Abrasion Method

As a rule, most whitening toothpaste contains an abrasive that helps with tooth stain removal. The abrasives act like a tooth exfoliator that removes extrinsic (outside) stains.  Extrinsic stains are caused by things like coffee, tea, and red wine.  These types of toothpaste create the perception of whiter teeth by removing stains, however, they don’t actually whiten teeth from within.  They can also be overly abrasive and remove enamel if used improperly!  (See our blog about toothpaste abrasive ratings)

Bleaching Method

Many teeth whitening products contain bleach. The bleach is either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Bleach solutions work by breaking stains into tinier parts, resulting in a brighter tooth color because the stain color is less concentrated. The bleach whitening agent is applied by the dentist after applying either a protective gel on the gums or inserting a rubber shield to protect the gums. This process typically only requires one visit.

An alternative to in-office teeth whitening is at-home teeth whitening kits. In this case, the dentist will provide a custom-made tray for home use. The dentist will then instruct you on how to use the bleaching solution. Bleaching at home will take more time than it would take the dentist but is a great option for patients with sensitive teeth. In fact, home whiteners can take a few days or a couple of weeks to achieve the same result.

Alternatives to bleaching solutions include some kinds of toothpaste or teeth whitening strips. The bleaching agents in these products have a lower concentration than the solution used by a dentist. These types of teeth whitening products are typically sold as part of bleaching kits. As with over-the-counter abrasive products, look out for the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know they are safe for home use.

All Smiles Family Dentistry patients can take advantage of the No. 1 professional teeth whitening brand, Opalescence. The Opalescence whitening family includes multiple products to help whiten every smile.

Opalescence whitening

Results Differ

Whitening will no doubt result in improvements, but it isn’t a magic wand. Yellow teeth will improve significantly, however, brown teeth and teeth with gray tones will only improve marginally. Also, teeth whitening treatments don’t work on fillings, caps, crowns, or veneers. Teeth whitening will also have a limited effect on injured teeth. An injured tooth can change color by producing dentin which is a darker layer under tooth enamel, as it reacts to the injury.

Medication can also affect the color of teeth. This includes high blood pressure medication, antipsychotics, and antihistamines. The color of children’s teeth can also be affected by antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline. Medical treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy can also make teeth darker. Therefore, it is important to discuss your expectations with your dentist or oral hygienist before starting.

Side Effects

Whiteners can cause a degree of temporary tooth sensitivity when the peroxide infiltrates the dentin layer underneath the tooth. Overuse may cause damage to gums and tooth enamel.

Psychological Benefits

Communication experts suggest that 90 percent of what we communicate is communicated through our body language and gestures. A smile is a big part of that. Research conducted by the British Dental Journal in 2007 shows that whiter smiles affect business and social lives. Higher intellectual ability and social competence scores were achieved by people with whiter smiles. Lastly, a whiter smile can boost self-esteem as it will help you look younger and feel younger.

Hygiene Benefits

In addition to the psychological benefits, committing to a tooth whitening regimen improves oral hygiene on top of regular brushing and flossing. What are you waiting for? Teeth whitening has been proven to boost overall oral health and physical wellbeing.

All Smiles Family Dentistry in Omaha, NE

At All Smiles Family Dentistry, we are proud to provide high-quality care to all our patients both young and old thanks to our compassionate and experienced dental team. We offer a clean and comfortable clinic to help you feel relaxed during your visit. Contact All Smiles Family Dentist or schedule an appointment online.