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How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

whitened_teethDo you look in the mirror and wonder why your smile isn’t as bright as it used to be? The most requested cosmetic dental service in the U.S. is teeth whitening, and in the past 20 years, whitening has become easier because the level of abrasives has been reduced in them.

Foods that we eat and drink everyday are the culprits with foods like tomatoes, tomato sauce, sports drinks, wine, coffee and cigarettes being the worst. If it will stain your clothes, it will stain your teeth. There are many ways to whiten your teeth and keep them sparkling. They can be done at home with over the counter products and by your favorite dentist.

How does Teeth Whitening Work?

Removing stains and whitening your teeth is not permanent, so the best thing to do is develop a strategy and schedule that fits your lifestyle. The brightness may fade within a month, but if you avoid the troublesome foods, your treatments could last up to a year. No two individuals are alike, and neither are the conditions of their teeth, so the results will not be identical.

It is important to know the basics of your teeth. Teeth consist of two layers, the inner layer made of dentin and the hard outer layer made of enamel, which protects the dentin. As you eat and drink, foreign matter adheres to the top of the enamel forming the stains and discolorations and this creates the pellicle film.

What happens in most people is that the pellicle layer absorbs the stains from the foods and cigarette smoke, and then they gradually soak into the enamel, which is porous and then into the dentin. These stains are harmless, but most people find them unattractive, and most OTC products typically use three percent mixtures of carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide to whiten.

Cleaning and Whitening in Your Dentist’s Office

This is usually the safest method of cleaning and whitening, and many people choose it first, so they can see the typical results. The dentists will check for cavities and the condition of your gums before applying the whitening agent, which is a system using 15 to 35 percent hydrogen peroxide gels. He may add a high intensity light to enhance the process which takes approximately 40 minutes to an hour. This is the strongest process and will whiten your teeth four to six shades in one treatment.

Whitening Your Teeth at Home

Americans spend over $1.4 billion in OTC products every year. This includes brushing and flossing, which are the basic tools for reducing tooth decay, gum disease, and removing plague from the teeth before they can turn yellow.

There are natural ways of keeping the pearly whites shining, such as eating lots of crunchy raw vegetables, like carrots, celery, apples, and pears. They tend to be naturally abrasive on your teeth, and they remove stains from the enamel and polish the teeth.

Over the Counter Products

OTC products are designed to whiten the enamel, and not to get down into the dentin layer. In order to go deep, you will have to see your dentist. But, there is a wide variety to choose from. Whitening toothpastes add a gentle polishing and chemical agents for stain removal, but they do not have bleaching additives. Using these twice a day will typically lighten the tooth’s color by about one shade.

OTC Whitening gels and strips are stronger, and are coated with peroxides that are applied directly to the teeth, which are used twice a day for 14 days. One of the newest whitening products is whitening rinses. They add hydrogen peroxide to a mouthwash reducing plague and gum disease. Rinsing twice a day, results will begin to occur within 12 weeks. Rinses are slower acting mainly because they are only on the teeth for two minutes at a time.

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