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The Science Behind Teeth Whitening: How It Works

Teeth whitening has become a popular cosmetic dental treatment in recent years. Many people desire a brighter, more radiant smile but may not understand the science behind teeth whitening. Its also recommended to consult a professional Dentist in Garden Grove who is an expert dental practitioner providing excellent services to their clients with guaranteed satisfaction. This article will explore the science behind teeth whitening, how it works, and the options available to achieve a brighter smile.

What Causes Teeth to Stain?

First, it's important to understand what causes teeth to stain. The outer layer of our teeth, known as the enamel, is porous and can easily absorb colour from the foods and drinks we consume. Foods and drinks with strong pigments, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and berries, can cause staining over time. Additionally, tobacco use and poor oral hygiene can also contribute to discolouration.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that helps to remove stains and discolouration from the teeth, leaving them brighter and more radiant. Teeth whitening works by using either chemical or physical agents to break down and remove these stains from the enamel. There are two main types of teeth whitening treatments: in-office and at-home.

In-Office Teeth Whitening

In-office teeth whitening is performed by a dental professional in a dental office. The most common method is to use a high-concentration hydrogen peroxide gel applied to the teeth, which is activated by a special light. The hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen, which penetrates the enamel and breaks apart the stains. This process takes about an hour and can lighten teeth by several shades.

At-Home Teeth Whitening

At-home teeth whitening involves using a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide gel in custom-made trays that fit over the teeth. The trays are worn for a specified amount of time, usually several hours a day for several weeks. The hydrogen peroxide works in the same way as it does in the in-office treatment, but the lower concentration means it takes longer to achieve the desired results.

There are also over-the-counter teeth whitening products available, such as whitening toothpaste, strips, and gels. These products generally use a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide and may take longer to see results. It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully, as overuse or misuse of these products can lead to tooth sensitivity and other issues.

Are Teeth Whitening Safe?

Teeth whitening is generally considered safe when performed by a dental professional or when using an over-the-counter product as directed. However, there are some potential risks and side effects to be aware of.

The most common side effect of teeth whitening is tooth sensitivity. This occurs when the hydrogen peroxide penetrates the enamel and reaches the dentin, which contains nerves that can be sensitive to temperature changes. The sensitivity is usually temporary and can be managed with desensitizing toothpaste or other treatments recommended by a dental professional.

Other potential risks include gum irritation, damage to existing dental work, and uneven whitening results. It's important to consult with a dental professional before starting any teeth whitening treatment to ensure it's safe and appropriate for your specific needs.


Teeth whitening is a safe and effective way to brighten your smile and boost your confidence. Whether you choose an in-office or at-home treatment, the science behind teeth whitening is the same: using hydrogen peroxide to break down and remove stains from the enamel. It's important to follow instructions carefully and consult Dr Brandon Skenandore, DDS, certified dental professional at Westgrove Dental Care, before starting any treatment to ensure it's safe and appropriate for you.

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