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Teeth whitening is basically a cosmetic dentistry procedure to remove discolouration from teeth and getting noticeably whiter teeth almost instantly. The results are usually really fast and very apparent. There are many forms of teeth whitening treatment to suit every budget, time frame, and temperament. Solutions range from a one-hour procedure in the dentist’s office to home-whitening kits and everything in between.

Teeth whitening works very well but it’s not a long term solution. Touch-ups are required every few months to maintain the pearly white effect.

Teeth Whitening vs Bleaching

Teeth whitening is defined as the process of removing debris and discoloration from teeth. Bleaching is when chemicals like hydrogen peroxide are used as a bleaching agent to whiten the teeth beyond their natural color. However, in commercial settings, whitening is used to refer to products that contain bleach because it sounds better.

Enamel and Why Teeth Lose Their Whiteness

Enamel is the hard outer layer of teeth. It is one of the hardest substances in the human body. When we eat, enamel comes under a lot of stress and cracks begin to form on the enamel’s surface, and sometimes even exposing some dentin. The cracks get filled with debris from food and this causes discoloration of the teeth.

Teeth whitening products remove the stains and debris, and leave the enamel cracks open and exposed. These are later either remineralised with saliva or filled up again with organic debris.

Hydrogen Peroxide vs Carbamide Peroxide

There are two types of bleaching agents used for teeth whitening:

  1. Hydrogen peroxide: This is a fast acting bleaching agent normally used in dental clinics to give results in one hour. The concentration is usually around 9% to 40%.
  2. Carbamide peroxide: This slow acting bleach is used in DIY Teeth Whitening kits for those who prefer to do it at home. Carbamide peroxide breaks down to hydrogen peroxide but since the process takes slower it’s also safer to use at home.

Shade guides

Shade guides are used to measure the impact of the teeth whitening session. It’s a before-and-after method to show the patients what they’re paying for. The standard setter for this has been the Vitapan Classic Shade Guide. This shade guide standard incorporates 16 shades, systematically arranged from light to dark into four color groups, and provides a universal tooth-color terminology.

Most people who go for teeth whitening usually see their color improve ranging from 2 to 7 shades.