The Science behind Teeth Whitening

There are multiple factors that contribute to the discoloration and damaged appearance of teeth, some of which can easily be avoided or remedied. There are two main layers to the tooth that determine its appearance: the enamel layer which is white and partially transparent, and the dentin layer which is less transparent and a darker color. When the outer enamel layer is corroded, the inner dentin layer becomes more visible, which contributes to the ”yellow” appearance teeth may have. Before deciding which teeth whitening methods to use, there are some ways to preserve the white outer enamel layer.

Preventing the Need for Teeth Whitening

There are many lifestyle choices that can actively prevent the need for teeth whitening, most of which can be easily implemented into a daily routine. Avoiding foods with carotenoids such as sports drinks, sodas, red wines, and coffee can prevent the erosion of the outer enamel layer. In addition to preserving the outer enamel layer, preventing visible dental plaque and subsequent calculus is key to upholding the white appearance of the tooth. The use of smoking and smokeless tobacco products can also add discoloration to the tooth with yellow and brown staining occurring after persistent use.

Teeth Whitening Methods

Light-accelerated bleaching, or ”laser bleaching,” is the treatment of using halogen or LED light sources in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide to restore the white look to the tooth. The procedure usually lasts under an hour with only one treatment session needed. Other at-home teeth whitening treatments such as whitening strips, gels, chewing gums, and specialized toothpastes have also shown to improve teeth whiteness.

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