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How Does Professional Teeth Whitening Remove Stains

How Does Professional Teeth Whitening Remove Stains


Teeth whitening is one of the most popular elective cosmetic dentistry procedures available. The treatment is low-risk and extremely effective; in just one treatment regimen, professional tooth whitening can leave patients with teeth up to eight shades whiter. Because whitening offers such dramatic results, you may be surprised to learn that dentist-provided teeth whitening is really quite simple, using basic chemistry to quickly and effectively break down dental stains.

Understanding Dental Stains

Before you can understand how stain removal works, you should know a little bit about dental stains themselves. Over time, food, beverages, prescription drugs, cigarette smoke, and other materials accumulate on the surface of your teeth, leading to the formation of plaque. In turn, plaque attracts bacteria and proteins that eventually form a thin film over your teeth. Because teeth are porous, some of these materials will find their way into the inner structure of the tooth, even if you brush daily and receive regular dental cleanings. Although these stains do not pose a risk of decay or dental damage, they can significantly impact the appearance of your smile. Dentist-provided whitening treatments target these deep-seated stains and can have a huge impact on your overall appearance and self-confidence.

Types of Professional Teeth Whitening

There are two types of professional teeth whitening: in-office and at-home treatment. During in-office treatment, your dentist will apply a peroxide-based whitening gel to your teeth. Some dentists will also use a specially formatted dental light to activate the gel, which chemically breaks down the stains. When you select at-home treatment, your dentist will provide custom fit trays, which you will fill with whitening gel and wear for 30 minutes to an hour at a time, typically for up to two weeks. The whitening gel used in this treatment is similar to that used in in-office treatments, but it has a milder formula. This allows you to use the gel unsupervised without harming your sensitive gum tissue.

The Chemistry of Teeth Whitening

Both whitening methods work because of the chemical properties associated with peroxide. Most whitening treatments are hydrogen or carbamide peroxide-based, and they have a chemical concentration between 15 and 35 percent. Peroxide interacts with saliva to form "free radicals." These molecules set off a reaction that breaks down the chemical bonds of the molecules that cause stains. Applying a powerful chemical to your teeth may sound alarming, but it is actually quite safe. Manufacturers of tooth whitening products work hard to ensure that their products have a neutral pH level. Because of these careful chemical formulas, side effects - if any - are typically limited to mild tooth sensitivity. Thanks to basic chemistry and the care of an experienced dentist, you can enjoy a whiter, more brilliant smile in one easy and hassle-free treatment.

Talk to a Dentist

To learn more about tooth whitening, contact a cosmetic dentist in your area. He or she can explain more about how teeth whitening works and help you choose the best treatment for you.

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