7 Things You Need to Know About Teeth Whitening

Things to Know About Teeth Whitening
23 Feb 2021

7 Things You Need to Know About Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is the process of using hydrogen peroxide to bleach the outer layer of your teeth. This outer layer is known as enamel. Enamel is white and it is this layer that imparts the tooth its whiteness.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work? In-clinic vs Take-home Teeth Whitening

Our social and dietary habits (such as smoking and coffee or wine drinking), can cause stain particles to enter the pores of our enamel, causing teeth to appear darker. Hydrogen peroxide releases oxygen that enters the pores of our teeth to bleach out these stain particles.

Whitening can be done in-clinic with the help of a dental professional. The most popular in-chair whitening system is known as Zoom. Results can be seen in 1 session as we use 25% hydrogen peroxide, and blue light speeds up the process of oxygen release.

Take-home whitening, on the other hand, can be done in the comfort of your home. It involves the use of customised teeth whitening trays and carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide whitening gel. This gel is gentler and the concentration can be customised to suit your preferred wearing time. The home kit can be used to whiten your teeth and maintain the results.

Teeth whitening is highly effective and popular. We do this procedure a few times a week and it is popular with the 20s-40s age group who are aware that a smile is important for first impressions, be it at work or socially.

To clear common misconceptions, here are 7 facts you need to know about teeth whitening:

Teeth Whitening Process Is Not Invasive and Does Not Harm Enamel

The natural byproducts of peroxide are oxygen and water. Teeth whitening gels are also of natural pH and are not acidic. Since enamel is the layer that imparts whiteness to teeth, it would not make sense to whiten teeth by taking away the white layer. The process is non-invasive. The enamel layer is merely bleached with oxygen, and the structure of the enamel remains intact.

Natural Home Teeth Whitening Hacks Only Whiten Your Teeth Temporarily

To whiten teeth, it has to have a chemical that releases oxygen. Most natural hacks or whitening toothpaste merely contain abrasive particles. These can remove external stains that can brighten teeth but they do not change the internal colour of your teeth. Only peroxide can.

Why Teeth Whitening in Hair and Nail Salon Does Not Work

Only dental clinics and dental professionals can dispense hydrogen peroxide of concentrations above 3%. For discernible whitening, at least 6% of hydrogen peroxide should be in contact with teeth for 15 minutes. Most salons use a saline solution, which is a salt solution and has no proven whitening results. The use of hydrogen peroxide should also be done with professional supervision to ensure that the process is safe.

Teeth may appear whiter after a non-professional whitening as teeth become opaque when it is left to dry out during the whitening. But once the moisture goes back into the tooth, you may find that your “whitened” teeth are not whiter at all. So do not be fooled.

Sensitive Teeth Can Be Whitened

You can whiten teeth if they are sensitive but pre-whitening desensitising treatment is needed. First, a dental check has to be done. You cannot whiten your teeth if you have tooth decay or active gum disease. Teeth sensitivity can also be caused by over-brushing, creating abrasion cavities on your exposed roots. These cavities should be filled before whitening General teeth sensitivity can be managed with the use of desensitising toothpaste or rinse over 2 weeks before the whitening treatment.

Teeth Whitening Does Not Yield Same Results For Everyone

Everyone whitens differently. It is like suntanning. Each person’s skin tone is different. It is the same with teeth. How well you whiten depends on the thickness and opacity of your enamel layer. Remember, it is the enamel that imparts the whiteness.

We all reach a maximum white regardless of how long or how frequent we whiten. Natural white is still slightly yellow as enamel is translucent and the yellow dentine will show through slightly.

How Celebrities Whiten Their Teeth?

Why do celebrities have such white teeth? It’s because most celebrities do porcelain veneers. These are artificial porcelain laminates that we stick onto the front surfaces of your teeth to change the colour and shape permanently. They are more invasive and care must be taken not to chip them.

Very white teeth are bluish in tone and can appear artificial. You do not want a toilet bowl white for teeth!

How to Maintain Whitened Teeth If I Drink Coffee Frequently?

Simply maintain your pearly whites with the take-home whitening kit. Every 3 months, do it for 3 days. You only need 15 to 30 minutes to wear a day. Or whiten while you sleep.

Interested to know more or itching to get your first teeth whitening session? See how we can help you here!

Book an appointment with Dr Lynette Ng to brighten your teeth.

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About Author


Dr Lynette Ng

Dr Lynette Ng is an experienced Prosthodontist and Dental Director at The Dental Studio (TDS). She manages a team of associate dental surgeons specialising in Orthodontics, Prosthodontics, Periodontics, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Dr Ng graduated with numerous awards, including the IADR Gold Medal and Dean's List, from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery. She also completed specialist training in Prosthodontics through a conjoint Masters of Dental Surgery with the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.

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