A Comprehensive Guide: How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

a comprehensive guide how does teeth whitening look

Are you looking for a more radiant smile free of stains, splotches and yellow tints? Discover what’s involved with a professional cleaning with your dentist and how to whiten your teeth at home using a convenient whitening kit and accessories. With a variety of teeth whitening products within reach, you can make your teeth seven shades lighter in no time! 

But how does teeth whitening work, exactly? GO SMILE breaks it all down. Plus, we offer professional advice on ways to achieve a healthier smile and brighter set of teeth using a number of our whitening devices and tools. 

man smiling showing his yellow teeth

How Stains Form on Our Teeth

To understand how teeth whitening works, you must understand how stains are created in the first place. 

Our teeth can easily absorb anything we put in our mouths, from food to cigarette smoke to coffee and red wine. While it has a protective hard outer enamel layer, particles can accumulate over. Brushing is a fundamental step to prevent this layer from getting thicker with plaque or causing further damage. Professional cleaning does the trick, too, scraping away the layers of film. 

However, since enamel is made up of hydroxyapatite crystals and hexagonal rod-like pores, stains can become deeper if not addressed. That’s when brushing no longer does much good and a whitening agent comes into consideration. 

whitening gel in mouth piece

What Teeth Whiteners Are Made with

Many teeth whiteners use a type of bleaching chemical as a chemical reaction to help penetrate the surface layer and get into the porous rods a little deeper. This chemical reaction is usually an oxidation reaction, which not only whitens but breaks down the compounds that are causing the stains. 

Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are two common ingredients used. But each one is used in different ways, depending on whether you are using an at-home whitening kit or a professional cleaning. Let’s take a look at each method a little closer. 

Professional Teeth Whitening

When you get your teeth whitened by a professional, whether it’s in-office or an at-home treatment they recommend or send you home with, they can control the combination of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide that is used on your gums. Knowing how healthy your gums are (and if they are highly sensitive), they can adjust the whitening solution as needed. Although, many dentists also use the high-intensity light to hasten the chemical reaction of the 15 to 35 percent hydrogen peroxide gels. 

portrait of dentist in office

The typical professional teeth whitening at the dentist starts with your teeth being gently cleaned with pumice to create a protective barrier for your gums. Next, a hydrogen peroxide paste is applied to the teeth, resting for a few minutes before being rinsed off and then reapplied a few times more after that. With each application of the procedure, you can whiten your teeth. And for a 4-minute treatment, you can achieve a smile that is roughly four to six shades brighter. 

Dentists can also provide you with an at-home system. This type of at-home system typically uses 10 to 20 percent carbamide peroxide gels and other ingredients such as glycerin, carbomer, sodium hydroxide, water and any flavoring agents like mint. Often, gels that have more than 10 percent of carbamide peroxide will include sodium fluoride to combat the sensitivity people often feel and strengthen their enamel. However, this type of at-home system requires you to have impressions of your mouth taken to create custom molds that will become the whitening trays. (For those who have a strong gag reflex, this is a tedious and not-so-fun process.)

Once your dentist has the trays, only then can you officially start your whitening routine. By applying gel into the tray, you then wear it for two hours each day. Unlike many over-the-counter whitening kits, this whitening method can take up to two weeks to see results. And if your teeth are really stained, it can reach up to six weeks. So while a dentist-customized at-home routine may be convenient, it takes longer overall while waiting for the trays and for those pearly whites to come through. 

When choosing to whiten your teeth, the one main benefit a dentist can provide is to ensure your teeth are healthy enough for the procedure, whether you do it in the office or at home. They can let you know if it will be effective and guide you with what to do should you have splotched teeth, decayed teeth, infected gums or even bonding, veneers or braces. When it comes to your mouth’s overall health, your dentist knows best. They can even help you explore additional cosmetic dental options to get you the best-looking smile possible, including porcelain or resin veneers, tooth-matched fillings, gum lifts and shaping. 

However, while there are many advantages to a professional whitening routine given by your dentist, it’s not for everyone and does come with some drawbacks. For example, a dentist-performed whitening is considered a cosmetic procedure, which many dental insurance plans simply will not cover. And without assistance, you can expect it to cost upwards of $1,000 or more. 

It’s also not as convenient. You have to schedule and set aside time, battling traffic to get there. And coordinating a time between work and home tasks can be daunting in itself. 

How long teeth whitening lasts depends on the type of whitening route you choose. A thorough cleaning will make your whitening efforts last much longer. So at the very least, plan to start your at-home whitening kit after you schedule a routine cleaning and fill any cavities. Overall, your dentist can ensure your gums are healthy enough to undergo a whitening. 

at home teeth whitening kits

At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

At-home teeth whitening kits also use carbamide or hydrogen peroxide. However, how they are applied may vary. Some over-the-counter whitening kits offer strips made of peroxide-coated polyethylene, while others use gels of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide. 

Affordability is the most significant advantage of at-home whitening kits. Your standard kit is but a fraction of the cost of professional teeth whitening. 

At-home whitening kits are also highly convenient and can also be used immediately. If you have a celebration to attend in less than a month, at-home whitening kits can help you achieve a brighter, more confident smile in a short period of time, without scheduling an appointment for a costly cosmetic procedure. You simply insert the gel-filled silicone tray twice a day while tending to other tasks around the house – easy peasy!

Still, while studies have shown these over-the-counter varieties to be effective, not all are created equal. Many at-home whitening products have a chemical reaction that is much too strong for some, irritating the gums and causing teeth to react with sensitivity. However, a sensitive-free experience is something in which GO SMILE takes great pride. Our whitening products are made with a gentler yet effective solution that is accelerated through the use of blue light technology. 

At GO SMILE, we also offer a variety of whitening kits! While our silicone trays might be incompatible with a mouth that contains braces, other whitening kit options come with a blue-light whitening toothbrush and whitening gels to really get in between those metal rods and bonded parts. 

Shop At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Teeth whitening is perfectly safe, but there are some things to be aware of and prepare for. 

For starters, you should always follow the instructions. Don’t leave the strips, gels or trays in longer than directed simply to achieve faster results. This will only cause irritable and sore gums – or worse, potentially underlying problems. After each whitening regimen, avoid sugary and acidic drinks and foods. 

As a general rule, you should also avoid teeth whitening routines if you are pregnant or nursing. While research is limited, it is best to wait until a more appropriate time and use preventative steps to whiten teeth. 

Above all, the number one concern people have with teeth whitening kits is tooth sensitivity or gum irritation. When they feel that worrisome tingle, they suspect the worst. While we guarantee that GO SMILE products offer a sensitive-free whitening routine, many other brands will advise you to negate any mild sensations by reducing the amount of time spent whitening. Unlike some products that use high levels of hydrogen peroxide, preservatives and optical illusions like blue covarine, GO SMILE offers a more natural, sensitivity-free alternative using a combination of low H2O2 enhanced further by blue-light technology.   

portrait of smiling woman

The Importance of Dental Hygiene 

It’s not just essential to whiten your teeth for a healthier-looking smile, but also to ensure you are taking excellent care of your oral hygiene. In fact, dental care is more critical than ever. 

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found that COVID-19 patients who had gum diseases like periodontitis were nine times more likely to die from the virus. Out of 568 COVID-19 patients, it was found that those with periodontitis were more likely to be placed in the ICU and on a ventilator. 

The good news is that there is also evidence, provided by a study published in the Journal of the California Dental Association, which has found that when you take steps to control periodontal inflammation, it can help your lungs function correctly – which in turn reduces the risk of respiratory issues, like those caused by COVID-19.

But how do you control this inflammation? Fortunately, with new advances, such as bacteria-killing blue light technology and a gum massager, you can obtain a healthier mouth overall and reduce inflammation caused by gum disease by stimulating blood circulation. 

gosmile at home whitening solutions

GO SMILE At-Home Whitening Solutions

To keep teeth both radiant and healthy, you can’t go wrong with one of GO SMILE’s at-home teeth whitening solutions. Get started with a complete at-home whitening kit that comes with everything you need or pick up a travel-friendly, compact blue light device for those rushed, last-minute moments and on-the-go events.

Teeth Whitening Kit

With a variety of teeth whitening kits available, you can choose the perfect kit and caboodle for you! You might prefer an easy routine and need the BLU Hands-Free Toothbrush & Whitening Device, complete with two silicone mouth trays (for both whitening and brushing), along with a foaming whitening toothpaste.

Many GO SMILE whitening kits come with either silicone trays or a brush head, including a built-in blue light that kills bacteria and accelerates whitening, but the BLU Hands-Free Toothbrush offers a gum massager aid to stimulate blood circulation, reducing the risk of periodontal disease and more.

Sonic Toothbrush

teeth whitening toothbrush

A Sonic toothbrush can help you achieve a brighter smile, too! Once you finish your entire whitening kit and are happy with the results, a sonic toothbrush, which has been clinically tested to clean and whiten with bacteria-killing blue light technology, can help you maintain those pearly whites. 

Available as both a silicone tray or a sonic toothbrush with a bristled head, our whitening toothbrushes all come with patented bacteria-killing blue wave light technology, ensuring a clean mouth beyond the sparkling surface! Just make sure to replace the brush head every three months. 

Tooth Whitening Gel

tooth whitening gel

Whitening gel is designed to work alongside a blue-light toothbrush or silicone tray whitening device. With our advanced Hyperox™ Technology formula, it is guaranteed to penetrate your teeth beneath the surface-stained enamel for a deep whitening. And even better? It’s been proven to whiten up to 10X better than the leading whitening gel, all while being sensitivity-free. 

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Compact Devices

Whether you’re off to a destination wedding or need a touch-up before a meeting, GO SMILE carries a wide variety of compact devices for those on-the-go moments. Discover our award-winning teeth whitening pen and Glow on the Go blue light device, the perfect companion you can carry in your purse or pocket. The Glow on the GO device is super convenient, able to be refilled for continuous use. 

Plus, when you pair it with the teeth whitening pen, designed with a brush tip that can reach between your teeth’s crevices, you can achieve maximum whitening results in a jiffy! We also recommend our Extreme White applicators for a quick and easy whitening boost, proven to whiten your teeth in as little as one day. From stain erasers to whitening pens, we make it easy to maintain your hard-working teeth whitening kit for years to come!

 

Image Credits

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