Dental Blog


How Teeth Whitening Works

Jul 29 • 3 minute read

A smile can make a great first impression, but not if stains and discoloration diminish its impact. You acquire most stains from eating and drinking highly pigmented food products and engaging in bad habits. Whatever the cause of discoloration, there is a way your dental professional can help. A professional whitening treatment can remove years of staining in as little as one session.

How Do Teeth Get Stained?

Just like your skin, your teeth have pores. Eating and drinking will discolor your teeth as these substances come into contact with those pores, permeating them. Certain foods and drinks are worse than others in this regard. Those with the most significant staining power include:

  • Red Wine
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Cola
  • Blueberries
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Soy Sauce

Teeth whiteners use a bleaching gel that soaks into the pores of your teeth, breaking down the chemical bonds of the stains. This action eliminates those minute particles and brightens your teeth by several shades.

Whitening is a popular cosmetic procedure that addresses discolored teeth by lifting stains. This treatment can significantly improve your appearance without time-consuming, invasive procedures.

What Should I Do to Prepare for Whitening?

Before treatment, it is imperative to establish proper dental health. Your examination will determine if there’s anything that needs correction before whitening. The procedure will not be successful if decay or other issues are present. A professional cleaning will remove the build-up of bacteria, food particles, and other substances that could interfere with the treatment.

After your oral health evaluation, additional preparation for whitening treatment may include photographs taken of your teeth to help monitor the progression. Your dentist will discuss the causes of your stains and show you how to keep your teeth as white as possible after treatment.

The Whitening Process

The treatment begins with the placement of a cheek retractor and tongue guard to protect soft tissues and allow easy access to your smile. Teeth are rinsed and dried before placing a gingival barrier along the entire gum line on the upper and lower arches. This step protects the gums and prevents irritation, and it ensures the bleaching solution will coat only the visible portion of your teeth.

Once prepared, a dental professional places the gel on the teeth. Depending on the whitening product, sometimes a curing light or laser activates the peroxide to achieve the desired shade. After 15 minutes, the gel is rinsed off, the teeth are dried, and the process is repeated to achieve your desired shade. Teeth are rinsed a final time, and a fluoride application is applied to combat sensitivity.

The average person will repeat the whitening cycle 3-4 times, but for those with more extensive staining, it can be repeated up to six times. After each session, you can evaluate your progress and determine when you are satisfied with your treatment. Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity, and follow-up procedures are sometimes recommended.

What are the Benefits?

No matter how comfortable you are with your appearance, you will most likely agree that having a brighter smile is at the top of your me-time wish list. Professional teeth whitening is a convenient, painless, and lasting resolution. After the first whitening appointment, it’s easy to get touch-ups on any stains that return. A brighter smile can instill positive changes in your attitude and make a great first impression. 

Benefits of Professional Teeth-Whitening

Professional teeth whitening treatment can provide maximum brightening power in minimal time. Many people find it a convenient addition to a cleaning appointment. The procedure usually takes about an hour ,depending on the level of discoloration. Your dentist can provide take-home customized trays and gel to maintain your bright smile.

The whitening gel you get at the dentist’s office is a professional strength bleach with powerful hydrogen peroxide. Many gels also contain potassium nitrate and fluoride to reduce tooth sensitivity, strengthen enamel, and prevent cavities.

Both take-home and in-office whitening are simple procedures, making it easy for nearly anyone to enjoy. If you have information on how this treatment benefitted you, feel free to share!

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