How does teeth whitening work? That’s a popular question we get asked as dentists, so in this post, we will explain how the teeth whitening process works and discuss the options available.
People look to whiten teeth for several reasons, the most common of which improves their appearance. For example, did you know that in the US, seven in ten people admit to feeling self-conscious about their teeth? The same can be said for many other countries, including Australia, and is why teeth whitening and whitening treatments are on the rise.
So let’s assume you’re interested in the answer to the question ‘How does teeth whitening work?’ What are your options?
There are many whitening treatments available to anyone willing to part with their hard-earned cash. To make life easier, teeth whitening options can be split into two main categories.
- Over-the-counter products – like whitening gels, pens, strips, toothpaste and
- Professional teeth whitening – carried out under the supervision of your dentist.
Now here’s the interesting part…
Teeth whitening treatment you buy over-the-counter ranges significantly in their effectiveness. For instance, whitening toothpastes contain more abrasives, which may remove some light surface (extrinsic) staining but will not remove ingrained (intrinsic) discolouration.
Conversely, teeth whitening gels and strips contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which can, in some cases, penetrate the tooth enamel and lift ingrained staining.
We say this in some cases because, by law, all over-the-counter teeth whitening treatment sold in Australia is legally obliged to contain a hydrogen peroxide level content of less than 6% or a carbamide peroxide level of less than 18%.
Ultimately, this is why some products work better than others and is why they can take considerable time to work in some cases.
So how does teeth whitening work in a supervised setting?
Teeth whitening treatment supplied or carried out by a local dentist is different. Patients can either opt for chairside teeth whitening or take-home whitening trays. As the name suggests, the former is carried out chairside in the dental clinic while you wait, whereas you perform the latter in the comfort of your own home.
Both procedures are legally allowed to contain higher amounts of bleaching agents because they are classed as supervised teeth whitening treatments. In most cases of chairside treatment, bleaching levels can be above 30%, so teeth whiten quicker. In most cases, incredibly quickly – results can be seen within 1 hour.
When you compare that with over-the-counter teeth whitening products that can take several weeks or more to work (if at all), then you can understand why professional teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments available.
So now you know what’s available, how does teeth whitening work exactly?
Even though tooth enamel is the hardest material in the body, it is also porous. So when the bleaching agent is applied to the tooth’s surface, it penetrates through the enamel into the inner layer, dissolving and lifting any staining along the way. The stronger the bleaching agent, the greater the chance of teeth whitening.
So what can you expect, really?
It’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all answer because not all smiles are equal. Believe it or not, very few people are blessed with a naturally white smile. So depending upon the level of whiteness you start from dictates the final outcome.
You can expect professional teeth whitening treatment to whiten teeth 2-3 shades lighter. In some cases, this may be considerably more, and in other cases, it will be around this figure. Anyway, your dentist will be able to advise you during your consultation.
Conversely, when you purchase over-the-counter whitening products, the degree of success varies significantly from not working at all to showing some signs of difference. The products you pick vs. what you pay, vs. results, really can be a lottery.
Want guaranteed results? Get ready to go pro!
If you are looking for guaranteed results from your teeth whitening treatment, then it pays to visit your dentist. Because the process is supervised, you will be in safe hands. At Synergy Dental Group, we use SDI Pola not only for the proven effectiveness but also because of the comfort in use.
Are you ready to brighten up your smile? Book your consultation today or call us on (03) 7003 2185 and get ready to notice the difference.
New York Post – More than half of Americans Admit To Feeling Insecure About Their Teeth
News.com.au – Why Australians Are Skipping Dental Check-Ups
Global Newswire – The Rise Of The Teeth Whitening Industry
Your Dentistry Guide – Popular Cosmetic Dental Treatments
Mouth Healthy – 5 reasons Your Smile Is Stronger Than You Think