Interesting Teeth Whitening Facts

Did you know? Here are a few interesting facts about teeth whitening that I wasn’t fully aware of. Maybe these facts will surprise you as well:

We all know (or at least I believe we do) that teeth with man-made restorations such as veneers or that have been bonded with white fillings can’t be whitened with standard hydrogen or carbamide peroxide formulations. Man made materials don’t whiten beyond their original color, and they were originally manufactured to match the surrounding teeth. If you whiten the surrounding teeth too aggressively they’ll stand out and look artificial. However, it is important to regularly whiten the surrounding teeth to keep them matching the restorations; otherwise your natural teeth will make the restorations look increasingly fake. (This is where SHINE whitening products can be especially helpful—our custom fit trays allow you to hold whitening gel only where you want it, and our portable whitening pens can help with exact application as well.)

Root Canals/Internal Staining

Teeth that have internal staining, root canals or discoloration from developmental conditions may not be affected by the typical whitening process, even at professional strength. These are situations that even aggressive bleaching cannot affect. In these cases you would need to talk to you dentist about internal tooth whitening or permanent restorations such as veneers.

Here’s a new one for me: Natural teeth colors that are brown or gray in hue may not produce desired results. Surprisingly, teeth with a yellow hue will produce the most dramatic whitening results.

How, exactly, are teeth whitened?

Enamel, which is the first layer of tooth surface, is actually semi-translucent, or clear. The layer underneath the enamel, known as dentin, is typically yellow, but may be gray, brown or black. This hue is what you see penetrating through the enamel. While gentle whitening methods such as mildly abrasive toothpaste and whitening gel can remove surface stains from the enamel, the most dramatic whitening comes when the peroxide solution on the enamel is strong enough to penetrate the porous enamel surface to reach the underlying layer of dentin. This is one of the big reasons whitening toothpastes and even whitening strips will never have the impact a professional strength carbamide peroxide solution coupled with custom fit whitening trays can provide. It’s the lightening of the dentin that will accomplish the very most to produce the appearance of whiter teeth.


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