If you’re considering a whitening treatment, it’s crucial to understand how it works. Learn about the different methods used in teeth bleaching — from at-home kits and over-the-counter therapies to professional procedures performed by dentists or dental hygienists.
Do you want whiter teeth? If so, there are many ways that can help your smile achieve its most brilliant white shade. You might be surprised to learn just how easy it is.
Some people believe they have all of the answers to achieving a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise. Others know what we should do every day to look after our bodies and minds. But few seem to realize how much their appearance affects others’ perceptions of them.
It may sound like an exaggeration, but your physical appearance has more power than anyone else’s advice on what to eat or not eat, how often to work out or play sports, and even how long to sleep each night.
Studies show that people make up their minds within 60 seconds whether someone looks trustworthy or not—no wonder some people feel insecure with their smiles because they’ve never had perfect pearly whites.
Fortunately, if you’re one of those who don’t get enough confidence boost from wearing braces or veneers, other options are available to improve your smile without any invasive surgery.
There are several products available today that will give you brighter, whiter teeth without having to spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic dentistry.
However, before choosing which product best suits you, you must decide where exactly you’d like to start improving your teeth’s color.
There are two main areas where tooth discoloration occurs – surface stains and subsurface pigmentation. Surface stains are caused primarily due to poor oral hygiene habits, such as brushing too hard or using abrasive toothpaste.
They usually affect only the top layer of enamel and are relatively easier to remove than deeper colored staining caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar under the gum line. Subsurface staining is also referred to as intrinsic stain and causes permanent damage to the actual structure of enamel itself.
The longer this discoloration goes unnoticed, the harder it becomes to reverse the effects. Fortunately, unlike external stains, the good news is that these stains can become less visible over time with proper care and maintenance.
So how does whitening happen? And what are the various techniques used to bleach our pearly whites? Read on to find out how teeth whiteners work and choose between home and professional whitening methods.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening works by removing the layers of pigmented substances called melanin found mainly in the outermost part of our teeth called enamel. Melanin gives teeth their darker tone and color.
Applying bleaching agents directly into the gumline breaks down melanin molecules and causes the affected area to appear lighter and whiter.
This method is called the gingival grafting technique since, during the procedure, your dentist uses tissue taken from another part of your mouth to cover treated areas and prevent the regrowth of dark spots.
The effectiveness of whitening depends mainly on the chosen concentration of carbamide peroxide gel. Typically, a 10 percent hydrogen peroxide solution is considered safe and effective for everyday use.
However, higher concentrations of 30 percent hydrogen peroxide solutions are commonly known as “professional” whiteners and require specialized training.
Some advanced users recommend going beyond 35 percent concentration of hydrogen peroxide to obtain maximum results. Before starting a whitening regimen, consult your dentist to determine the right amount of strength and frequency for your particular case.
Most importantly, always follow instructions carefully and never apply higher strengths than recommended.
Now let’s take a closer look at some popular teeth whitening systems currently being sold around the country. Keep reading to discover how you can brighten your smile yourself.
What to Expect With Professional Teeth Whitening
With years of practice and experience, professionals have developed various techniques and formulas for safely lightening stained teeth. One of the oldest and still widely accepted methods involves the application of high concentrations of pure oxygen gas via a unique device called Perio Light.
Although the mechanism behind this system remains unknown, experts speculate that it could either stimulate the production of new collagen fibers needed to support newly grown cells or increase blood circulation near the roots. This causes faster removal of accumulated bacteria and the growth of new bone tissue.
Another similar technology called AirBrush employs air plasma jets created by ionizing nitrogen atoms to vaporize off dead skin and polish away plaque buildup literally. Laser lights are also becoming increasingly common among dental offices nowadays.
These devices emit intense beams of red wavelengths explicitly targeted toward the tooth’s crown, penetrating deep inside the darkened crevices and breaking apart melanin molecules responsible for coloring our teeth.
Since lasers operate at shorter wavelength ranges than regular sunlight, patients won’t need to worry about sunburned lips or eyes while undergoing laser whitening sessions.
For safety reasons, ask your doctor beforehand how intense the laser beam would be and whether he recommends taking certain precautions such as protective eyewear and sunscreen lotion.
But if you prefer not to go straight to the source, read on to learn about affordable alternatives that you can try at home.
Whitening At Home
Although expensive, medical-grade equipment designed specifically for whitening purposes can provide exceptional results. However, if you’d instead save money and maintain excellent quality control, consider trying a non-prescription kit intended for daily usage at home.
Available online, at local pharmacies and big-box retailers, these kits typically contain small tubes filled with concentrated amounts of active ingredients for treating specific parts of your mouth. Choose a kit based on your personal needs and preferences.
While low-concentration kits tend to cost significantly less, they might leave you unsatisfied with the results because they lack the necessary ingredients to tackle stubborn stains.
On the other hand, more robust kits offer better performance and last longer, although their price tag makes them unaffordable for most consumers.
For people with sensitive teeth, the prospect of putting anything foreign in their mouths can send chills up their spines. Luckily, tray-based whitening systems allow people to enjoy the same benefits offered by professionally applied products without worrying about side effects.
Wear custom trays made for your mouth 24 hours prior to getting your pearly whites painted to avoid discomfort. These reusable plastic appliances are made of soft yet durable material that fits snugly against your upper and lower front teeth, holding tightly onto surrounding teeth and cheeks while exposing only minimal gums.
Afterward, boil water to wash the trays and soak them overnight in a warm saltwater mixture. Then brush them gently with specially formulated whitening paste. When ready, reapply the trays once again until the desired brightness level is achieved.
Keep reading to find out how you can effectively whiten your teeth without spending a fortune.
Like whitening trays, strips can be worn directly over the entire set of pearly whites for quick and noticeable improvements. Unlike trays that stay put throughout the session, whitening strips rely on a chemical reaction to penetrate deeply into stained surfaces for enhanced efficiency.
Wear the strips twice daily after meals for two weeks until the desired level of whiteness is reached.
Next, we’ll explore some of the latest trends in whitening technologies, including whitening toothpaste, mouthwashes, flosses, and chewing gums.
While bleaching your teeth externally with prescribed gels and strips offers a fast and convenient way to bring back their natural luster, doing the same internally requires patience and dedication.
Over time, enamel naturally develops tiny brownish deposits called opacities on both sides of the tooth structure.
Opaque masses absorb light waves and scatter them randomly instead of allowing them to pass through unimpeded for reaching the opposite end of the tooth. Eventually, the body responds by producing black pigments called melanin to protect itself from dangerous UV rays and harmful free radicals produced during digestion.
Unfortunately, melanin cannot easily penetrate opaque areas far below the gum line, thus making it impossible to restore lost shine through simple exfoliation alone.
Only recently developed super-strong whitening toothpaste and gels capable of penetrating multiple levels of enamel and releasing powerful oxidants deep beneath the surface can deliver outstanding results comparable to those obtained from clinical procedures.
In addition to helping treat external stains, modern whitening toothpaste actively combat internal pigmentation by dissolving excess calcium salts left over from mineral buildups on molars and premolars.
Other vital ingredients include fluoride ions that strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, flavonoids protecting tissues from damaging oxidation, and enzymes neutralizing acids present in saliva.
Look for brands containing at least 3% carbamide peroxide, preferably 7%.