How tooth whitening works?

Teeth whitening is a simple process. Bleaching products contain one of two teeth whiteners (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). Tooth whitening is any process that lightens the color of a tooth. Whitening can be achieved by physical removal of the stain or a chemical reaction to lighten the color of the tooth.

Bleaching is defined here as the chemical degradation of chromogens. The active ingredient in most bleaching products is hydrogen peroxide (H2O), which is administered as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is a stable complex that decomposes on contact with water to release hydrogen peroxide. Because carbamide peroxide releases hydrogen peroxide, the chemistry of most teeth whitening is that of hydrogen peroxide.

Because teeth are porous, the whitening gel is absorbed by the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth. The active ingredient in whitening gels is hydrogen peroxide, which removes stains and is safely absorbed by the body. Most OTC whitening products use low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, while cosmetic dentists use higher concentrations for faster, more effective results. These toothpastes are also wonderful for maintaining a white smile after performing true teeth whitening.

New studies have shown that aggressive teeth whitening can cause increased tooth sensitivity, changes in tooth microstructure, and changes in restoration. Without a peroxide chemical, the only way a product could meet any teeth whitening claim is by removing surface stains. Current research on teeth whitening shows that it is safe and effective when following the manufacturer's protocol, but there are risks that the profession and users should be aware of. You will also be given special tools to keep your mouth open and protect the soft tissues in your mouth during the whitening procedure.

For those who need the fastest whitening results, a professional in-office treatment is the right choice. Overseeing your teeth whitening strategy by an oral health professional will reduce potential risks and optimize the benefits of teeth whitening. Whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasive particles that provide a very fine sandpaper effect, gently cleaning surface stains that build up every day. Many OTC whitening products contain the right active ingredient and produce noticeable changes.

This update provides a summary of current research and evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of teeth whitening regimens. By making the trays from a replica of your teeth, the custom fit keeps the whitening gel in the perfect position for optimal results. The custom trays will last for many years, allowing you to simply purchase the whitening gel as needed for maintenance. The three studies reviewed above on the persistence of whitening treatments found that light activation had no effect on whitening.

This end point depends on the type of whitening employed, usually 1 to 2 shades for over-the-counter (OTC) cleansers and gels, and more for professionally applied products. Brightside Family Dental is proud to help patients whiten and brighten their smiles with Ultradent Opalescence BOOST in-office whitening kits.

Ernest Oesterling
Ernest Oesterling

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