As we grow older our teeth will sadly start to lose their translucent sparkling quality. This may be due to a lifetime of stain-inducing beverages and foods, or through the wearing away of our tooth enamel, exposing the darker dentin beneath. It might even be down to the medications we take. Certain meds like amoxicillin-clavulanate (used to treat bacterial infection) and tetracycline (used to treat acne), for example, can cause tooth discolouration. It’s no wonder then that people are more curious than ever about professional whitening treatments and want to know how does teeth whitening work?
In this post we’ll pay particular attention to professional teeth whitening and how it differs from the many over the counter teeth whitening treatments that seem to be everywhere. So let’s dive straight in…
Over The Counter Teeth Whitening VS Professional Teeth Whitening – What’s The Difference?
You may understandably be a little confused about the difference between professional and over the counter whitening products. After all, in some respects, they’re very similar. For instance, both professional teeth whitening treatments and over-the-counter whitening kits contain the same bleaching agents. These are either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The latter of which morphs into hydrogen peroxide when placed on the teeth anyway.
So do all teeth whitening treatments work the same way?
Yes and no! They work in the sense that they lift staining using the same process known as oxidation. The difference is that store-bought whitening treatments contain a lesser concentration of the bleaching agent used to achieve those results.
Because legally they have to!
Australia, along with many other European countries, carries strict safety guidelines that restrict the degree of teeth whitening agent contained within a store-bought product. In this case, that figure is less than 6%.
Professional teeth whitening treatments and kits, on the other hand, are legally allowed to contain upwards of 6% and up to 35%-40% for chair-side teeth whitening. So while store-bought whitening kits can work, you could be waiting weeks or months to achieve anything like the results that professional chairside and take-home kits can bring about.
In fact, in the case of chairside teeth whitening, patients can expect to notice a difference in as little as 1 hour! Compare that to 3-4 weeks or more for a store-bought product, and the results couldn’t be more different.
So now you have a good understanding of the difference…
How Does Teeth Whitening Work And What Can You Really Expect From Professional Whitening Treatments?
As long as you visit a reputable dentist, you should expect proven and safe results. Here at Dental 266, for example, we use the latest Pola chairside and take-home teeth whitening systems which provide better results with less sensitivity.
Here is how the teeth whitening process works…
The first thing to consider is that the whitening gel needs to come into direct contact with the surface of the tooth. The longer the tooth is in contact with the whitening gel, the more your teeth will whiten – It’s worth remembering though that your teeth will only whiten to a certain level. So if you have a particularly jaded smile, you might not be able to achieve a blindingly white smile that people see as soon as you walk in the room. Instead, whitening is done in moderation.
Chair-side Teeth Whitening
The chair-side teeth whitening process is super-fast and is therefore ideal for those who have an upcoming engagement that they need to look their best for. During the process, the gums are covered and protected exposing the teeth. Next, the whitening gel is carefully applied to the teeth. In some cases, it is activated using a special light. In others, it’s simply left to work it’s magic for around 15 minutes.
During this time, the bleaching agent penetrates the porous surface of the tooth enamel and starts to break up the stain molecules in a process known as oxidation.
The gel is then rinsed off and the process is repeated twice more until the desired or maximum level of whiteness has been reached. Within as little as a lunch hour you’ll have a brighter, whiter smile
Professional Take-Home Kits
As the name suggests professional take-home teeth whitening kits are worn in the comfort of your own home. The difference between these and store-bought varieties is that the whitening agent can legally be stronger and will, therefore, take less time to whiten, but also, the trays used to hold the whitening agent on your teeth are custom-made by your dentist. In other words, they are custom made to fit your teeth.
The advantage of this is that with a ‘one size fits all’ tray, the whitening gel might not always be evenly positioned across your teeth.
Remember we said that the gel needs to come into direct and even contact with the tooth surface to achieve the best results?
Well, custom made trays are the best way of doing exactly this.
They work in the same way as chairside teeth whitening in that the gel penetrates the enamel and lifts ingrained staining, except because they don’t contain such high concentrations as chair-side whitening, results take longer to achieve.
The idea is that the trays are worn over the teeth either for several hours during the day or overnight and within 10-14 days, patients can expect a whiter brighter smile.
So now you know the answer to the question how does teeth whitening work? Isn’t it about time you took the plunge? Our highly experienced team at Dental 266 can help you to bring your smile back to life. Call us on 02 9051 0600 for a smile consultation today.