How Does Tooth Whitening Work?

Whether you regularly whiten your teeth or are considering having the procedure done for the first time, you might be wondering exactly how the whitening process works. Quay Dental has put together a quick guide based on the most common questions that our patients ask us about tooth whitening. But first, here are the basics of tooth whitening.
First, all whitening procedures are completed using one of two techniques. A bleaching technique will change the natural shade of your tooth. You can expect to experience an improvement of up to seven shades. This can be done in our office or at home. The active ingredient in the solution used will help to remove both surface stains and stains that are deeper within the tooth.
Non-bleaching procedures rely on chemical actions or physical changes to help remove surface stains. An example of this would be whitening toothpaste. This type of toothpaste will have either a special chemical or a polishing agent that will help to remove dark surface stains. This can also be completed during a professional cleaning.

Is whitening an option for everyone?
Never whiten your teeth before discussing the procedure with your dentist. A proper dental examination should be conducted, including x-ray pictures, to make sure that the cause of any tooth discoloration is normal. In some cases, treatment will be needed before a whitening procedure can be completed. If there are cavities or any type of decay present, these issues should be addressed prior to whitening.
Your dentist can also help you form realistic expectations. In some cases, the outcome that the patient has in mind might not be achievable with basic whitening. For example, if tooth roots are exposed, they won’t be affected by whitening. An exam can let the patient know if whitening or a different procedure, like the placement of veneers, will give them the results that they are after.

Can whitening damage my teeth?
Whitening is always recommended to be completed under the care of a professional. This is to make sure that teeth remain healthy throughout the process. Depending on the type of procedure, certain solutions, like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide can damage enamel if left on for too long. Studies show that as long as procedures are done correctly, tooth whitening is safe.

How long will the whitening last?
The answer is different for everyone but it’s important to know that no procedure will leave your teeth whiter forever. On average, results can last from six months to up to two years. Touch-up treatments can help to extend your results as well.
You can also maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine, along with professional cleanings. Avoid tobacco and limit beverages that can stain the surfaces of your teeth, like red wine, coffee and certain teas.
Keep in mind that everyone responds differently to whitening procedures. In an effort to help you reach your maximum whitening potential, discuss your options at your next appointment at Quay Dental. Our staff can help you choose the best option for your needs.