How Does Teeth Whitening Work

 In cosmetic dentistry

Teeth whitening is super-trendy – but how does it work, and is it safe for your teeth? We take a closer look at the most commonly requested cosmetic dentistry procedure of the decade.

Interestingly, we haven’t always tried to whiten our teeth. During the Elizabethan era, women blackened their teeth to emulate the queen. These days, both men and women prefer white teeth, but coffee, tea, smoking, and certain foods stain our teeth over time. Should we have our teeth whitened?

In-Office vs Home Whitening

There are two ways to whiten one’s teeth. One is a process and is done at home using materials supplied by a dentist. Beware of over-the-counter products and especially of home remedies that might actually abrade or damage your tooth enamel.

The home whitening method is a process and will require several treatments before you get the desired result.

Far more popular in today’s rushed word is in-office or laser teeth whitening. In this procedure, the dentist uses a laser to activate a whitening compound and it instantly lifts away the accumulated stains.

Because the dentist can treat each tooth individually, he or she can even out the results even when one tooth was more stained than its neighbour.

What Happens When the Dentist Whitens Your Teeth?

Before your dentist tries to whiten your teeth, he or she will determine whether you are a suitable candidate for whitening. Pregnant women should wait before whitening, and if you need dental work done, it must occur before the whitening procedure.

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to whiten teeth. The laser whitening process only removes stains from the surface of the tooth. If your teeth are naturally discoloured, you will need to consider another solution, for example, veneers.

Once the dentist knows you’re a suitable candidate for tooth whitening, the procedure can begin. First, your teeth are cleaned thoroughly. Then, the dentist fits a mouth guard that holds your mouth open and applies a barrier to the gums. It goes on like a gel, and dries into something like rubber.

Now, your dentist can apply the whitening compound. The laser makes it foam, lifting away the stains. The compound is left on for a little while, then removed, and the process is repeated up to three times until the teeth are white.

After Whitening

Most people find that their teeth are a little sensitive for a few days after whitening. Some say their teeth are very sensitive, and others say they feel no aftereffects to speak of. If you are uncomfortable, medications can reduce sensitivity.

While you’re happy with your white teeth, chances are, you aren’t giving up coffee-drinking. Your teeth will accumulate new stains over time. How long that takes depends on your lifestyle. If you are a cigarette smoker, for example, you will probably want to follow up in as little as six months.

All in all, our patients are happy with the results they get from laser teeth whitening and we’re satisfied that the methods we use are safe and won’t harm their teeth. If you’d like to find out about brightening up your smile, talk to us about in-office teeth whitening.

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