How does Teeth Whitening Work at a Dentist Office?

Categories: Cosmetic Dentistry

Most people love a beautiful, gleaming smile. Brighter, whiter teeth are an ideal way to enhance a smile. It’s not a surprise that tooth whitening is the most in-demand cosmetic dental procedure, with Americans spending almost $2 billion yearly to add sparkle in their mouth. Teeth change color due to tobacco use, age, medications drinks such as coffee. This article will explore different stains and how teeth whitening works.

How Teeth Whitening Works

As the name suggests, teeth whitening is a process that helps to make teeth look whiter. The procedure uses bleaching and non-bleaching whitening products. As dentists, we will recommend the best whitening option for you. Unlike over the counter whitening option, we supervise the whole procedure to ensure there are no complications.

Typically, it takes about one hour to perform professional teeth whitening procedures. The process involves applying whitening gel on a tooth. The gel contains 25 % to 40 % hydrogen peroxide. A heating lamp or laser is aimed at the teeth for 20 minutes intervals. During the heating procedure, a protective barrier is used to protect the gums and tongue from the gel.

Below is a typical step by step process of in-office whitening:

  1. A dentist starts by making a record of the current teeth shade
  2. Then, the tooth is polished using a pumice
  3. The dentist uses gauze to isolate the moth and keep the teeth dry. Retractors may be used to protect the tongue, lips, and cheeks from the whitening solution
  4. A barrier is lined along the gum line to protect it from the whitening solution
  5. The front surface of the tooth is coated with a whitening solution. The solution contains a bleaching agent, typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide
  6. A laser or curing light is usually used to activate the peroxide. After applying the solution, we leave it for about 30 to 60 minutes. Some brands require reapplying the solution occasionally
  7. The next step is rinsing the teeth after attaining optimum shade or lapse of the maximum period. The dentist may apply fluoride to ease tooth sensitivity
  8. Follow up sessions are scheduled until you attain the desired shade. The dentist may suggest home whitening trays for continued treatment and a complete whitening process.

Stains that are Best Eliminated Using Teeth Whitening

Teeth stains vary significantly. Toothpaste, strips, gels, and other over the counter products can help eliminate red wine stains, coffee stains, and other everyday discoloration and stains. However, most stains can’t be removed using over the counter surface whitening products. It is best if you opt for professional teeth whitening treatments.

Surfaces stains are usually caused by tea, smoking, coffee, and sauces. Stains caused by diet are best removed using professional teeth whitening treatments. The treatment contains high-grade whitening agents that can’t be accessed over the counter.

Dentist’s office teeth whitening is best for stains caused by enamel wear and tear. However, surface whitening treatments are not suitable for teeth restored through crowns, bonding, porcelain veneer, and other cosmetic dental treatments.

Types of Stains

There are two main types of stains intrinsic and extrinsic stains.

Intrinsic Stains
Intrinsic stains are characterized by brown, yellow, or gray color caused by demineralization and fluorosis. The stains are located on the dentin and can be lightened by chemical bleaching or mechanical removal. Since whitening treatments cannot lighten these stains, the best method is crowns or bonding.

Extrinsic stains
Extrinsic stains are located on the enamel and likely to occur due to poor oral hygiene habits. The staining agent does not adhere to the tooth surface; instead, plaque incorporates the stains. Extrinsic stains can be brown, green, yellow, black, or orange. These stains are relatively easy to remove.

Age-Related Stains
Usually, these stains are caused by enamel getting thin and darkening dentin. The treatment must clean deep inside the dentin to get rid of the stains.

In Conclusion

Our lifestyles, habits, diet, and even medications put our teeth at risk of staining. The good news is that professional teeth whitening procedure can eradicate the stain and improve your smile. However, the effectiveness of each treatment depends on the cause of the stain. If the bleaching method does not attain the desired result, you can always opt for bonding, creams, and veneers.