In a world where over-the-counter teeth whitening products such as toothpaste, gels and strips are in abundance, it’s important to know that the most effective form of teeth whitening treatment is still that provided by your dentist. Not only do they have more powerful and effective tools at their disposal, but dental professionals are also experts on your smile and are well-positioned to determine the best teeth whitening treatment for you.
With this in mind, it’s well worth answering the question – “How does teeth whitening work?” After all, it’s always better to trust teeth whitening procedures if you know how they work. So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the science behind teeth whitening…
The porous nature of teeth enamel
If you look at the surface of a tooth with the naked eye, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is one continual hard surface. Indeed tooth enamel is the hardest material contained within the human body – fact! That, however, doesn’t stop it from being porous.
Look at it under a microscope and you’ll notice that tooth enamel is made up instead of thousands of tightly packed rods called cones. When we eat or drink something stain-inducing it’s very easy for the stain molecules to seep between the rods. Before you know it you have ingrained tooth staining.
In order to remove ingrained staining, a chemical is needed to break down the stain molecules and eradicate the problem. This is where teeth whitening treatments come in.
Teeth Whitening Treatments and Hydrogen Peroxide
It perhaps comes as no surprise that the common ingredient found in most teeth whitening treatments is hydrogen peroxide. This is the same ingredient more commonly found in hair bleaching products and is also used in many cleaning products found in the home. It’s safe and effective. What hydrogen peroxide does in relation to whitening teeth is that when it comes into contact with stain molecules, it forms a chemical reaction known as oxidisation.
So How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Because hydrogen peroxide is a weak acid formula with strong oxidising properties, it takes away the electrons that hold the stain molecules together, and – a bit like a bridge that has lost its structure – the stain molecule starts to collapse or break down. As it does so, less light is reflected through the tooth creating an image of a whiter, brighter smile.
Unfortunately, teeth whitening only works on natural teeth. Why?
Although modern-day crowns and bridges can be made to look incredibly lifelike, materials such as dental porcelain – a common material used when fabricating crowns – cannot (chemically speaking) be made to mimic properties of natural tooth enamel. As a result prosthetic restorations simply don’t react the same way to teeth whitening as your natural teeth will.
Ultimately, the key point to take away is that when done professionally, teeth whitening is both safe and effective. So now you know the answer to the question ‘how does teeth whitening work’ isn’t it about time you gave it a go?
To find out more, contact our experienced team at Bondi Beach Dental today. We can help you to achieve a great-looking smile that you can be proud of. Call us at (02) 9159 6957 today for a consultation.