How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Whitening involves applying bleach solutions to the teeth. The bleach attacks the highly colored organic molecules that lodge between the crystals of tooth enamel (the outermost tooth covering) or in the dentin (the tooth material under the enamel). It's these organic particles that give the teeth a stained appearance. For surface stains, the solution is left on the teeth usually for 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the method used. For internal stains on non-living teeth that have had root canal work, the bleach might be sealed inside the tooth.
The bleaching process continues until these organic particles are rendered colorless. Bleaching works best on yellowish stains and even some brown stains, but may not work at all on gray discoloration. It's important to keep in mind that bonding material and fillings cannot be whitened with bleach. If you have these restorations in your mouth, you should consider how your teeth will look if the natural parts become whiter and the bonding stays the same.
Is Whitening Safe for My Teeth?
Generally speaking, whitening is safe because the chemicals used to attack the organic molecules do not materially affect the mineral structure of the tooth itself. There are many studies supporting the overall safety of whitening by bleaching, though it's possible to experience some temporary side effects such as tooth sensitivity. we will take precautions to protect your root surfaces to minimize your potential for tooth sensitivity.
The bleaches used most often in teeth-whitening products are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. The latter is particularly appropriate for home-whitening products because it is a more stable compound with a longer shelf life. It can also be left on the teeth for longer periods with less risk of sensitivity. Professional bleaching solutions containing hydrogen peroxide, a faster-acting bleach, can lighten teeth up to 10 shades in about an hour, though some people may need several treatments to achieve the desired level of whitening.
What Are the Risks of Teeth Whitening?
The main risk is tooth sensitivity following bleaching and that varies with a given product's concentration and the amount of time it is left on the teeth. If sensitivity does occur, it usually lasts no more than one to four days. Gums can also become irritated on contact with bleaching solutions or by an ill-fitting mouth tray. It's important to wipe off excess gel from your gums during whitening and to inform your dentist of any problems.
How Long Do the Results Last?
No matter which whitening method you choose, you will probably find that the results fade over time. Whitening usually lasts from six months to two years, though longer-lasting results have been reported.
How Can I Maintain My White Smile?
You can make the brightness last longer by avoiding the foods and habits mentioned above that cause staining. Some individuals may need a touch-up whitening treatment in the dentist's office or at home once or twice each year.