If you are looking for a way to improve your smile, you may have considered teeth whitening. Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that can make your teeth look brighter and whiter by removing stains and discoloration.
You can whiten your teeth at home with over-the-counter products or at the dentist's office with professional treatments. Here is a bit of information about dental stains and how dental whitening works.
What Causes Stained Teeth?
Dental stains can be classified into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Here is some information about each type.
Intrinsic staining affects the interior layers of the teeth, including the dentin. These stains can be caused by multiple issues, such as:
- Side effects from medications
- Genetic conditions
- Dental trauma
- Excessive exposure to fluoride
Intrinsic stains are usually yellow or brown and are difficult or impossible to fully remove. Thus, your dentist may suggest cosmetic treatments that hide the discoloration, such as dental crowns or veneers.
Extrinsic staining affects the outermost layer of the tooth, which is called the enamel. These stains result from exposing the teeth to external factors, such as:
- Deeply hued foods
- Dark drinks
Poor oral hygiene can encourage extrinsic staining. These stains are usually dark or colorful and can be removed more easily with chemical whitening applications.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening works by using chemicals that break down the stains on the teeth and make them appear lighter in color. The most common chemicals used for teeth whitening are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, which are both oxidizing agents that can penetrate the tooth material.
There are different methods of applying these chemicals to the teeth, depending on whether you choose to whiten your teeth at home or the dentist's office.
At-home teeth whitening products include whitening toothpaste, mouthwashes, strips, trays, gels, and pens. These products usually contain a lower concentration of peroxide and require multiple applications over days or weeks to achieve noticeable results. Some of these products may also contain other ingredients such as abrasives, enzymes, or blue Covarine to enhance their whitening effect.
Professional teeth whitening treatments include in-office bleaching procedures and dentist-supplied products for use at home. These treatments usually contain a higher concentration of peroxide and require fewer applications to achieve faster and more dramatic results. Some of these treatments may also involve the use of heat, light, or lasers to activate or accelerate the whitening process.
If you would like to try teeth whitening treatment, contact a dentist in your local area.