ABOUT TEETH WHITENING

From a young age, we’re all taught to brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly. Even if you’ve always taken great care of your teeth, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be as white as you’d like! Good oral hygiene is important, but it isn’t enough to achieve a bright white smile. Most people need to use a dedicated whitening product.

HOW TEETH GET THEIR COLOR

There are many factors that determine the color of your teeth. Genetics are important – some people have naturally darker teeth or stronger, whiter enamel than others. Teeth also undergo natural age-related color changes that can make them look yellower or darker, similar to the yellowing of old papers or hair color going grey. Ingesting certain medicines like tetracycline or too much fluoride in excessively enriched drinking water can also affect the color of teeth, leaving a greyish cast or white spots that are very hard to remove, even with whitening products.

Most significantly, teeth get darker as they’re exposed to dark food, drinks, or smoking. Enamel, the outer surface of teeth, is hard, but it's also porous. Stains get into the teeth through these tiny pores, and accumulate underneath the translucent enamel, in the dentin layer. These stains make teeth look yellow or brown, rather than white and bright. Your teeth may be strong and healthy, but over time, anything that would stain a white t-shirt – coffee, tea, red wine, tomato sauce – will eventually stain your teeth!

HOW TEETH WHITENERS WORK

Both natural discoloration and deeper stains exist below the enamel, and brushing your teeth won’t significantly whiten them. Many “whitening” toothpastes claim to whiten because they contain abrasives that scrub away surface stains. Most people who want white teeth need more – they need a product that can actually get into teeth, reach the dentin, and chemically change its color.

All effective teeth whitening products contain some form of peroxide, which is able to safely whiten teeth both inside and out, without damaging the enamel. After the whitener is applied – whether by strip, tray, gel, or otherwise – the peroxide breaks down and releases oxygen ions. These ions are so small and chemically active that they travel through the pores in the enamel, reaching stains and color molecules inside the teeth in a way that no physical abrasive can. The ions break the chemical bonds in the colored areas to make them colorless, visibly whitening the teeth.