What is tooth whitening? Just as the name implies, tooth whitening is a process to brighten and boost the colour of natural teeth. It is worth noting that it only […]
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What is tooth whitening?
Just as the name implies, tooth whitening is a process to brighten and boost the colour of natural teeth. It is worth noting that it only works on your own natural teeth, not on any dental work you may have.
The chemistry behind tooth whitening is by using a peroxide of a specific concentration, you produce a chemical reaction on the ‘internal’ stain within the tooth to neutralise it. Once neutralised it makes its way out of the tooth, leaving the tooth structure itself untouched.
This makes tooth whitening very safe as there is no reduction or loss of your natural tooth. It is worth being aware that there is a natural porosity in all our teeth, and whitening increases the porosity significantly. This is partly what creates the sensitivity that occurs with the treatment. After you complete your two to four week whitening period, the tooth will return to its natural porosity within 2-3 weeks.
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The home tooth whitening procedure
The regime you follow will be prescribed by your dentist, and there are several approaches and protocols available. The ‘evidence base’ shows that night time whitening for a prolonged period gives the most colour stability.
The highest concentrations of tooth whitening gel available in the UK are 10% and 16% carbamide peroxide, which is equivalent to 6% hydrogen peroxide. This is to do with the release and breakdown cycle over a period five hours after exposing the whitening gel.
You will find several of these products available on the internet, and they may be legitimate, but there is a likelihood that the gels are not stored adequately to retain their concentration. Once the gel begins to breakdown, it becomes more acidic which has some side effects when used as a whitening gel.
The first is that the gel will cause more sensitivity, and secondly it would be less effective as the concentration is not as high. We are telling you this so you can be sure to practice safe whitening and not be tempted to take up non-professional whitening, which remain to be illegal in the UK.
Daytime and power in surgery whitening also work, however, the drawback is the stability is not quite as good.