In a previous article we discussed the different at-home and professional whitening options. But how does the whitening process actually work and what are the benefits to a professional in-office whitening?

In Afdent’s over 40 years of providing patient friendly dentistry, one of the most common questions we get from patients is “how do I get my teeth whiter?” This is usually followed up with “is it safe?”

In this article, we’ll explain how years of coffee, wine, smoking, soda, and other unsightly stains can be removed quickly, safely, and with minimal discomfort.

How Whitening Works on Your Teeth

Each of our teeth is made up of an inner dentin layer and a hard outer enamel layer, which protects the teeth. The food and drink we consume challenges the protective barrier of the enamel. Simply put, enamel is porous, which means staining agents can work their way down into the tooth, where you can’t simply scour them away. The deeper stains are basically harmless, but most of us find them unattractive and prefer a whiter smile.

During a dental visit, a dentist can clean away some of the staining through scraping and chemical treatments. Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time helps knock out some of it. Whitening toothpastes have additional abrasives and are designed to work harder on removing stains than ordinary toothpaste.

Benefits of Professional Whitening

If you choose to professionally whiten your teeth, your Afdent dental team will first evaluate the shade of your teeth and make a plan. Before the tooth whitening treatment, we’ll clean your teeth, fill any cavities, and make sure your gums are healthy.

The active ingredient in teeth whitening solutions is either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. During the whitening process, we put barriers on your gums to protect them from the harsh chemicals.

Your teeth are cleaned with a mild abrasive to remove any exterior stains and to make the deep stains more accessible by the whitening agents. Once the barriers are placed to protect the gums, your lips and cheeks may also be drawn back to help ensure the chemicals only contact the teeth. 

Your dentist will apply the solution using either repetitive intervals or as a one-time application that is left on for several minutes. While the process is taking place, your dentist evaluates the teeth shades as they get whiter to track the progress of the whitening procedure. One appointment can make a significant difference, but additional appointments may be necessary to continue and maintain the whitening.

At Afdent, we have chosen the GLO Science Professional Whitening System. This patented technology combines optimal heat and light in a closed system mouthpiece to activate and accelerate the whitening process. This results in shorter exposure time to the hydrogen peroxide and reduced sensitivity. This system offers an in-office procedure as well as a take-home system.

Is Tooth Whitening Safe?

Studies have confirmed that tooth whitening is safe and effective. Whitening gels that contain lower concentrations of carbamide peroxide have not been shown to cause any damage to the enamel of the tooth. Higher percentage products come with a greater risk of tooth and gum sensitivity which is why you should obtain them from, and be monitored by, a dental professional. 

Any bleaching system with peroxide comes with the risk of tooth sensitivity, and Afdent generally recommends patients should start using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth at least 2 weeks prior to bleaching. If there is any gum sensitivity or irritation after the procedure, it is usually mild and reversible. An over-the-counter product such as Orajel will help.

If you are considering a cosmetic procedure to whiten your smile, it is important to find a dentist you trust. Schedule a free consultation at Afdent to talk with our dental professionals to discuss your goals and intentions before committing to a procedure. Now is a great time to change your smile to the grin you have always dreamed about.

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