How Does Whitening Work?
Whitening works by bleaching stains that darken and color the teeth. A tooth‘s color is mainly in the dentin. Tooth enamel has a crystalline structure and a transparency. It is permeable, and the dentin underneath becomes stained by smoking and by dark or deeply colored foods (coffee, tea, soda, soy sauce, curry, mustard, red wine, etc…)
The primary, most common substance used in any whitening or bleaching treatment is carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide becomes hydrogen peroxide in contact with water. The hydrogen peroxide further breaks down into water and oxygen. The oxygen can penetrate the enamel’s crystalline structure, where it destroys the pigments that are staining the dentin by breaking the molecular bonds that make them up.
It’s not exactly a chemistry lesson, but it’s probably not too far from being one! This also helps explain why you should avoid so-called “whitening” toothpastes… they don’t have this mechanism that destroys stains in the dentin. Instead, they have abrasives intended to scrub “stains” from the enamel. They also scrub off some of the enamel, and over time with consistent use, they will cause thinning and weakening.
Skip the whitening toothpaste, and get your regularly-scheduled in-office cleanings with a professional hygienist for the outside of your teeth and a good-quality carbamide peroxide bleaching product to lift the deeper stains. Mall of Georgia Dentistry carries Sheer White Strips and a variety of other products that can help. We are here to help you take great care of your teeth and keep them looking fabulous too!