The Science of Teeth Whitening
Cosmetic dental procedures have experienced a surge of popularity in the last two decades, and no treatment is more frequently requested than dental teeth whitening. During this procedure, a dentist utilizes basic chemistry to lift stains from enamel and bleach the surface. The result is a brilliant, gleaming smile that can be up to eight shades lighter after a single treatment.
While many patients request this treatment, few actually know how it works and how long the results will last. When you’re thinking about having your teeth whitened, read this article to discover the science behind the procedure and what to expect when getting in the dental chair.
Chemistry and Dental Whitening
The main form of science behind teeth whitening is chemistry. Your dentist, at Downtown Whitby Dentistry, understands this process and can explain it to you in person. Essentially, the clear gel that is placed on the teeth contains an active ingredient like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
This agent penetrates deep in the enamel and exposes discoloring molecules that start to break down the agent. The agent produces oxygen molecules that interact with whatever has been discoloring the teeth, creating a bleaching effect.
The bleaching effect does not last long. The majority of agents available in dental offices and at-home treatments have a lifespan of roughly 30 minutes, after which the gel is removed from the teeth. During a standard dental treatment, patients can expect to undergo three separate 15 minute sessions to produce the best results.
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Stains
While doing research, it is common to see claims by dental whiteners that they will target either extrinsic or intrinsic stains. An extrinsic stain is an external one that sits on top of dental enamel. An intrinsic one is a stain that penetrates deep into the tooth and leaves a more permanent form of discoloration.
The majority of whitening products target extrinsic discoloration, while only a few reach deeper in the teeth to hit intrinsic stains. At-home treatments are notorious for only affecting the outside. Anyone who wants a deeper form of whitening should visit a dental professional. The agents used will be stronger and more lasting than anything bought from a pharmacy or general store.
Does Whitening Damage the Teeth?
In previous decades, it was common for people to experience tooth pain after undergoing whitening treatments. The pain was caused by manufacturers producing agents that contained too much peroxide, which could reach all the way to the soft pulp and nerve of the tooth. Modern whitening agents do not have this issue and will not damage the teeth. The only potential side effect is sensitivity, which will fade after a couple of days.
Dentist in Whitby Teeth Whitening
Whitening is a safe cosmetic procedure that can produce a cleaner, more brilliant smile. While kits are available from pharmacies or online, patients receive the best results when they visit a dental professional who has access to better formulas and equipment.
If you would like more information on teeth whitening, please contact us at Downtown Whitby Dentistry.