How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

There has never been more of an importance placed on white teeth than in today’s society.

The image of ideal, pristine teeth has led to many products and services that offer white teeth in the blink of an eye. With many different options, from professional teeth whitening at your local dentist to over-the-counter whitening products, it can be difficult to know which will bring the best results. 

So, here is your guide to teeth whitening. This includes all the options you have for whitening, how they work, and the effects that each will have on your teeth. 

 

Teeth Whitening Options

All whitening options work in one of two ways: either through bleaching procedures or non-bleaching procedures. 

Depending on your desired effect and budget, these options have their pros and cons. Bleaching procedures tend to be more expensive, but they also generally offer the most effective results. 

Non-bleaching procedures, however, are often less expensive and are generally used as a way to keep your teeth white between dental cleanings. 

 

Bleaching procedures 

These bleaching procedures change your natural tooth colour, and this can be done in a variety of ways.

  • Light-activated whitening procedures at your dentist’s office cost around $500. This instantly creates whiter teeth. However, after a year or so of normal eating and drinking (coffee, tea, etc.), you will likely have to go back and have them whitened again. 
  • Custom mouthpiece for in-home bleaching created by your dentist. This option is slightly cheaper, at $300, and you typically wear it overnight for two weeks before you see results. After that, you can wear it again to combat any new stains.
  • Non-professional over the counter whitening products range both in price and procedure type. There are boil and bite tray applications, whitening strips, and gel applications that you can purchase from most drug stores, ranging from $10-$45. 

 

Non-bleaching procedures 

Non-bleaching procedures are also common in teeth whitening. These are often just toothpastes that you can use to keep your teeth white in between your regular dental cleanings.

These products work by physical and/or chemical action to remove surface stains. Whitening toothpastes incorporate polishing agents to offer additional stain removal. 

These methods are often cheaper than the bleaching procedures, but they also don’t involve the immediate effects that the bleaching methods provide. 

All in all, the non-bleaching methods are definitely more of a long-game kind of whitening. 

 

How They Work

On your teeth, there is a layer of enamel. Often, with eating and drinking, this layer forms another layer on top that is called a pellicle film, which is where the undesirable yellow colour comes from. 

This layer can break off with regular brushing and dental visits. However, whitening products are made to do even more to this layer, creating a perfectly white smile every time. 

With bleaching procedures, a bleaching agent is used to work its way into the pores of the tooth, and set off a chemical reaction that breaks up staining compounds. Most bleaching procedures use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, which is also what is used to bleach your hair. 

This means that bleaching procedures are often more successful in a deep-whitening than the non-bleaching procedures, as non-bleaching procedures only reach the surface area of the teeth and use the friction of the brush to break off the surface.

 

Which to Choose?

Overall, there are many different options for any price range and desired effect. 

If you are looking for a deeper and more dramatic whitening, one of the bleaching procedures is likely the better option, but for those who simply want to keep their teeth looking shiny and white between their scheduled cleanings, the non-bleaching methods will suffice. 

It is also important to remember that different methods affect everyone in different ways, so the best method for you depends on your diet and your brushing methods.

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