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how does teeth whitening work - Costa Rica Dentists

How does teeth whitening work

Everyone wants a white, bright smile.  However, daily activities, age, medications, and foods can stain your teeth over the years. There are many whitening methods. Some of them are more active than others and may affect the health of your teeth in several ways. We often get questions regarding how the whitening process works and which methods work best, so we decided to give all the answers. In general, there are two whitening methods: through bleaching and through polishing agents.

Bleaching methods:

Bleaching methods work through a chemical agent, usually achieving more dramatic results.  Patients usually get a smile 4 to 7 shades whiter after their treatment. Bleaching treatments can be chairside or at home.

At-home products, generally whitening trays, use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide to remove stains. These agents break down the carbon molecules attached to the surface of your teeth, which give them a yellowish look. When these carbon molecules are detached, the enamel becomes temporarily porous, and external factors like air and water can cause tooth sensitivity. The bleaching agent comes in a syringe and is applied on your teeth through a custom mouthpiece worn for two hours over the course of one or two weeks.  

Chairside bleaching uses ultraviolet light activation. The session must be performed within the dental office and can achieve dramatic results in a few minutes. Laser whitening involves two 20-minute sessions. Compared with home products, the laser can cause more tooth sensitivity after the treatment and it can be compared with electric shocks. Nonetheless, the laser can remove deep stains without damaging your enamel.

If you have crowns or veneers, bleaching techniques will not affect the original color of your prosthetic. This is because there are no organic minerals in them and there is no way the chemicals will act on them.

Polishing methods:

Non-bleaching methods use physical action to remove stains. Abrasion removes most surface stains because agents polish the area to expose a whiter layer of enamel beneath.  You can find abrasives appropriate for dental use in whitening toothpaste. Your dentist will also polish your teeth at your regular cleaning using a special prophylactic paste.

Polishing methods can damage your teeth if not properly used.  Abrasives like carbon, sand or baking soda can wear away enamel and cause irreversible damage. If you have crowns or veneers, the abrasion will ruin the outer layers of the porcelain.  However, polishing methods are a good way of spacing your bleaching sessions. The rule of thumb for dentists regarding stain-causing foods and beverages is that whatever can stain a white cloth can also stain your teeth.  Foods like coffee, tea, wine, tomato sauce, carbonated drinks, and other hue-saturated products constantly stain your teeth.   Whitening toothpastes can help diminish their effects on teeth, but remember most of them are not meant for daily use. Use them a couple of times a week or until you see the stains disappear.

Whitening is a great way to naturally improve your smile. Everyone is attracted to a bright, youthful smile. In case your stains are too deep we can also help with alternatives like crowns or veneers.

At the Costa Rica Dental Team we love to perform whitening and see the results. Patients are often amazed when they see their glowing teeth for the first time. We are experts in cosmetic dentistry. Our goal is to make our patients happy with their smile.  Contact us now to discover what we can do for yours.  

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