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The cosmetic process of teeth whitening is a professional bleaching of the colour of your teeth and the removal of stains. These stains can be caused by exposure to substances that stain (like coffee, tea, caffeinated beverages and tobacco products), or simply through the process of ageing, whereby your dentin changes from white to yellow as you get older. Professional whitening treatments use high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to achieve this. Let’s take a look at “how does teeth whitening work?”.


Understanding The Tooth Structure And How It Gets Stained

Your tooth is made up of three layers: the dental enamel, the dentin and the tooth pulp. It’s possible for your tooth enamel to be stained by external forces as we mention above, however, when you have a professional clean from your dentist, a lot of these stains can be removed with special instruments.

The dentin, which is located below the enamel, can get stained and discoloured over time too, but the teeth whitening product you use needs to be able to penetrate the enamel in order to do that.


Why Professional Whitening Treatments Are Most Effective?

Generally, the higher the concentration of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide in the product, the faster and more effectively it works because of its ability to access the stains in the dentin.

How-Does-Teeth-Whitening-WorkBut it’s important to note that legally, only a registered dentist can administer teeth whitening products with a hydrogen peroxide content of more than 6%.

It’s also worth noting that the reason for this is for consumer safety and because prior to the legislation being introduced, patients were leaving teeth whitening solutions on for too long or using it for longer than directed. Professional whitening treatments are fortified to remineralise your teeth and protect them as they whiten.


How Does Teeth Whitening Work

The procedure will depend on whether you choose chairside whitening or take-home trays to whiten your teeth. If your dentist does the whitening treatment for you, you can expect to achieve results that are six to eight shades lighter than your original tooth colour, usually in a session. Your dentist will inspect the health of your gums and teeth to make sure they are cavity and gum disease-free before cleaning and polishing your teeth to remove any stains.

Then your soft tissue will be protected before each tooth is painted with a bleaching solution that contains a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide. A blue light may be shone over your teeth to speed up the process. The bleaching agent will be left on for a certain amount of time before it is removed.

If you have take-home trays, the teeth whitening solution will be a bit weaker and your treatment will take longer to show results. You will be given customised trays to dispense whitening solution into. You will wear the trays for a few hours a day or overnight, for a period of time as directed by your dentist.


To find out more about “how does teeth whitening work?” it’s best to have a consultation with a professional. Please contact us: (07) 3185 2387.

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