How Does Teeth Whitening Actually Work?

tooth-brushIt’s useful to know exactly how the process works before getting teeth whitening done. This can put you at ease during the treatment. Here we’ll look  at how several different teeth whitening methods work.

How a Stain Forms

The enamel layer is originally white, but with time it changes colour. This change is brought about by staining foods such as coffee, tea and red wine. Smoking also has an adverse effect on the color of your teeth.

These materials form a layer on top of the enamel layer; this is the yellow color you see in the mirror. The longer the layer forms on your teeth, the harder it is to remove it. This is mainly because the layer of materials gets into the enamel and becomes part of your tooth. At this stage it can’t be removed by traditional methods like brushing your teeth. This is where teeth bleaching comes in.

Dental Bleaching

Tooth whitening treatment uses chemicals to bleach the stain. The chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide, break apart the compounds staining your teeth. Most teeth whiteners contain carbamide peroxide which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Specifically this breaking down process is done by oxygen hitting the stains.

There are two ways to go about this procedure. You can choose to visit the dentist’s office or use home remedies. The procedure at the dentist’s office uses the carbamide peroxide to bleach the stains on the teeth. This process can be aided by a laser devices.


These machines use light energy to stimulate the peroxide molecules into operating faster. The amount of chemical used to bleach the stains depends on the shade of the teeth. Teeth with few stains require less chemicals than teeth which are dark brown in colour. The dentist may give you a maintenance kit for you to use after the procedure.

What if it’s Done at Home?

This procedure can also be carried out at home. This approach uses a custom-made mouth piece to fit to both your top and bottom teeth. Peroxide gel is then used with the mouth piece. You simply squeeze some peroxide gel into the molds of the mouth piece and then put the piece into your mouth for a specified amount of time. This procedure takes longer than the one done at the dentist’s office. The peroxide used is not as strong and lasers aren’t used. It can take up to 3 weeks for you to see the results of the procedure.

Other Methods

You can also use whitening toothpastes to whiten your teeth. The component in the toothpaste simply bleaches the stains in your teeth. Home remedies such as the use of apples, lemons, oranges peels and strawberries work in a similar manner. These fruits contain acids that erode the stains away. However, the danger of these acids is that they can easily cause damage to your enamel. To avoid damage you must use these remedies with caution.

However, this procedure does not keep your teeth white forever. The longest the teeth whitening effect can last is a period of three years. But that’s only if you stay clear of staining foods. After consumption of things like red wine, curry, coffee, tea and tobacco they will begin to lose their whiteness and may need the treatment again.

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