Teeth whitening has been recognized as a popular cosmetic dental procedure in recent years, with many opting for a brighter smile. Here is a guide to the scientific processes of teeth whitening and the mechanisms behind its effectiveness.
A basic understanding of the structure of teeth is necessary to comprehend teeth whitening. Teeth consist of multiple layers, with the outermost layer known as enamel. This sturdy coating safeguards and enhances the beauty of your pearly whites. This hard, protective layer safeguards the more sensitive layers underneath and determines the color of teeth.
Over time, teeth can lose their natural brightness due to several factors, including the effects of aging, consumption of specific foods and drinks, smoking, and insufficient oral hygiene practices. These extrinsic stains affect the appearance of teeth, giving them a dull or yellowish hue. The goal of teeth whitening is to reverse these effects, returning teeth to their natural whiteness.
Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is typically employed in the most common method of teeth whitening. These bleaching agents function by breaking down the stains into smaller molecules, making them less visible. A chemical reaction takes place wherein the peroxide penetrates the enamel and oxidizes the stain-causing compounds.
The effectiveness of teeth whitening is influenced by several aspects. One such aspect is the concentration of the bleaching agents used. Higher concentrations tend to yield more dramatic results, but they may also increase the risk of tooth sensitivity. The length of treatment and frequency of application also contribute to the outcome.
Another technique for teeth whitening is known as mechanical or physical abrasion. This process involves the use of toothpaste or special whitening products containing abrasive particles. These particles assist in removing surface stains by physically scrubbing them off, revealing a whiter surface beneath. It is important to note that excessive or incorrect use of abrasive products can damage the enamel, so caution is advised.
Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the demand for at-home teeth whitening kits. These kits typically include trays or strips coated with a whitening gel. The gel, similar to that used in professional treatments, contains peroxide but at a lower concentration. Instructions are provided for users to apply these kits themselves. While these kits may be convenient and cost-effective, the results they produce may not be on par with those achieved through professional treatments.
Contact your dentist for more information about teeth whitening.