How Do Teeth Whitening Kits Work?

by Nina

Teeth whitening procedures have become popular these past years. More people are keen on brightening their smile with the use of different teeth whitening treatments and products.

There are a lot of people today who are interested in brightening their smile. But first, it is important to understand what stains the teeth. The food and beverages that we consume have pigments which can leave a stain on the teeth’s enamel layer. When we brush our teeth right after eating, we are able to remove the stains from the surface.

There are times when we don’t brush immediately after meals. What happens then is that pigments remain on the teeth enamel or the cracks and crevices and will begin to penetrate the porous surface of the teeth. This is the reason why the longer the pigments stay on the teeth, the more discolored it becomes. If the stain penetrates the teeth, it will get more difficult to remove. In fact, it will require more than just brushing to lighten the teeth. The best option would be a dental or at-home teeth whitening treatment.

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How Teeth Whitening Works

Professional treatments and home teeth whitening kits use a bleaching agent which is applied to the enamel layer for a particular amount of time. Stronger bleaching agents are able to penetrate the layer better to get rid of stains. In-office teeth whitening treatments usually have the highest concentration of bleaching agents. As the bleaching agent touches the enamel layer, it creates an oxidation reaction that helps it break down the stains. Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the most commonly used bleaching agents in teeth whitening treatments and products.

The results of teeth whitening treatments vary depending on the strength of the solution and procedure. Many people see a noticeable difference only after one session but at-home teeth whitening kits usually need to be applied over a few days to weeks to notice results. The results also depend on the color of the teeth. If the stains are quite dark, it will take longer to be removed.

Professional Teeth Whitening Treatment

In-office teeth whitening procedures are designed to return the teeth’s color to its natural shade. However, most treatments are not able to significantly change the color of the teeth but instead, it makes it a few shades lighter. Professional bleaching is the most common form of teeth whitening according to International Dental Health Foundation. It uses hydrogen peroxide and the procedure can take around 3 to 4 weeks.

At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Teeth whitening kits are cheaper alternative to in-office whitening treatments. Many people prefer to use it because it is easier to use. At-home teeth whitening kits are used by placing gel on your teeth with a brush or tray. Whitening strips, on the other hand, are thin sheets of peroxide coated plastics which are placed on the teeth for at least 30 minutes. It can whiten the teeth in days or weeks depending on the stain’s color.

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes are effective in removing stains caused by coffee or smoking. However, it cannot change the teeth’s natural color. A study published in the International Journal of Oral Hygiene suggests that whitening toothpastes can whiten your teeth than regular toothpaste but the difference may not be that noticeable. While whitening toothpastes are safe for the teeth, it is important to keep in mind that repeated use can damage the enamel.

Teeth Whitening and Caps

Teeth whitening is not recommended for individuals with crowns, caps and veneers. This is because the active ingredients in whitening procedures are not effective in bleaching artificial teeth. Aside from that, real teeth might also stand out compared to artificial teeth when it is whitened. If you want to whiten artificial teeth, you may want to consult your dentist to discuss the best options.

What to Consider Before Whitening Teeth

There are a variety of in-office treatments and at-home teeth whitening kits that are proven to be safe and effective. Because it can be abrasive though, repeated use of teeth whitening procedures can wear down the teeth enamel over a period of time. If you want to whiten your teeth but are hesitant to use products, you can instead try to whiten the teeth naturally. Natural fibers in food including apples, pears, carrots, celery and cauliflower can make you salivate more and this will help get rid of stains on the teeth. You may also want to reduce consumption of food and beverages that discolour the teeth such as coffee and red wine.

Updated: 12/12/2011, Nina
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