How & Why Teeth are Whitened

How & Why Teeth are Whitened

Teeth Whitening

In today’s world, most people are very concerned with the look of their smiles.  They associate a bright, white, and memorable smile with positive attributes, such as health, youth, vitality, happiness, and physical attractiveness.  To ensure that their smiles stay bright, people often undergo cosmetic tooth whitening.

Tooth whitening is the most basic and common form of aesthetic smile enhancement. It is used to remove internal or external tooth discoloration.

You may wonder how teeth become discolored.  Extrinsic staining, or discoloration of the external tooth surfaces, is caused by foods and beverages, and by smoking.  Intrinsic staining, or internal tooth discoloration, can be produced by extrinsic stains that leak from the outer tooth structure into the dentin (middle tooth structure).  Intrinsic staining can also begin inside the pulp chamber , the innermost layer of the tooth, and seep outwards to the dentin.  Intrinsic staining that begins in the pulp chamber is usually caused by medications like tetracycline, by broken blood vessels caused by trauma, or by metabolic diseases.

If you practice good oral hygiene and regularly visit your dentist, you will be able to minimize the amount of stain accruued and its long term effects on your teeth.  You can also remove any accrued stains, especially intrinsic stains, by undergoing a whitening treatment.  The treatment uses a chemical reaction to ultimately disrupt the structure of the stain, causing the stain to move off of the tooth structures; carbamide peroxide degrades into hydrogen peroxide, which further degrades into free radicals that break the double bonds within the stain structure.  By removing the color from the stain, the reaction chemically lightens the dentin, ultimately giving you a beautiful, white smile.

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