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How Teeth Whitening Works: Everything You Need to Know

How Teeth Whitening Works: Everything You Need to Know

Who doesn’t white a gleaming white smile for family photos and formal events? When it comes to keeping our teeth looking out best, tooth stains and discoloration often stand in our way. There are so many staining foods, drinks, and other habits that discolor our teeth over time. 

While you can prevent these stains by abstaining or limiting your exposure to stains, once they’re there, brushing your teeth and getting dental cleanings will only remove minor surface stains. Read on in this blog from Driftwood Dental Studio to learn more about teeth whitening.

Mukilteo teeth whitening

How Teeth Whitening Products Work

Teeth whitening works by applying a whitening agent that contains peroxide to the teeth. The peroxide is either in the form of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide (which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide). 

Hydrogen peroxide increases tooth porosity so that the whitening agent can penetrate beneath the enamel layer of the tooth. This is how whitening products remove intrinsic stains that are stuck inside the tooth. 

Then, volatile oxygen molecules in the peroxide react with the discolored molecules by breaking apart their chemical bonds. The oxidation of your teeth is what whitens them.

Difference Between At-Home Kits & Professional Whitening Products

OTC Products - Over-the-counter whitening products come in many different forms and can be applied in different ways. There are whitening trays, toothpaste, strips, and pens. 

However, these products contain far lower concentrations of peroxide, making them much less effective at bleaching the teeth. They also don’t provide you with any protective gear or gels to prevent your gums from coming into contact with the bleaching agent. 

Even though you can choose drugstore whitening trays, these are not custom-made to fit the parameters of your teeth and will likely run over your gums, causing the peroxide to irritate or damage your gums.

Professional Whitening - If you get your teeth whitened professionally, you will have the option of whitening your teeth in the office with a light-activated whitening agent that produces instant results. 

You can also whiten your teeth from home with take-home whitening trays that are fabricated from impressions that we take of your mouth during a short appointment. 

The peroxide concentration is very high in the in-office whitening treatment which is why it can lighten teeth up to 10 shades after a single hour-long session. The gel is applied directly to your teeth and exposed to UV light. After an hour, the solution is rinsed out and you will see your results.

Take-home whitening involves taking impressions of your teeth during a short appointment so we can fabricate custom-made whitening trays for you to wear each day for up to 2 weeks to achieve the same results. 

The peroxide concentration is a little lower than in-office whitening which is why it takes longer to achieve the same results. However, this makes it more suitable for sensitive teeth and is convenient because you can multitask while whitening your teeth in your own house.

Reasons Professional Teeth Whitening Is Better for You

When you get your teeth whitened under the guidance of a dentist, you have a trained professional who is deeply knowledgeable about oral health, tooth enamel, and safety. When you use over-the-counter products, many of them are unregulated and not ADA-approved. 

They can easily be used improperly or left on for too long which can cause irritation and even damage to your teeth and gums. Professional teeth whitening in the office is carried out by a dentist so you don’t have to worry about anything going wrong. 

Even when you whiten your teeth at home with dental-grade products, we will provide you with detailed written instructions on how to apply the whitening agent and how long to leave it on. We take precautions to protect your soft tissues with the use of a cheek protractor and protective gel in the office and by creating custom-made whitening trays for your home-whitening treatment. 

Both of these methods prevent the whitening agent from running into your gums. You also don’t need to go to a consultation with a dentist to be approved for drugstore whitening products. This could mean you’re using products that are unsuitable or unsafe for your teeth. 

If you have active oral health problems or eroded enamel, this can severely damage your teeth. At Driftwood Dental Studio, we will always examine your teeth beforehand to make sure whitening is suitable for you.

Schedule Your Whitening Consultation Today!

If you’re wondering if teeth whitening is right for you or want a recommendation for which treatment is best for your teeth, contact us at Driftwood Dental Studio today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rebecca Butler.

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