Teeth Whitening: How It Works, Types, and Result

Teeth Whitening by Perry Family Dentistry in Mount Vernon WA

Teeth whitening has become a popular way to enhance our smiles. It’s a simple process at its core, but there’s more to it than just applying some product to your teeth. Different methods are available, ranging from professional treatments at a dentist’s office to over-the-counter kits you can use at home. Each approach has its own set of advantages and considerations, and knowing these can help you make an informed choice. 

How Teeth Whitening Works

Teeth whitening works by focusing and breaking down the compounds that cause discoloration in your teeth. This process involves bleaching chemicals that penetrate the enamel, the hard, outer layer of your teeth. The enamel is porous, allowing staining substances from food, drinks, and smoking to seep in and accumulate over time. Although regular brushing and dental cleanings can remove some surface stains, they can’t reach deeper discoloration within the enamel.

We use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as their active ingredient. These substances act as bleaching agents that break down the molecules, causing tooth discoloration. When applied, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, with hydrogen peroxide being the active component facilitating the whitening effect.

This whitening occurs through an oxidation reaction, breaking apart the staining compounds in the enamel. The effectiveness of these whitening treatments can vary depending on the bleaching agent’s concentration and the application duration. 

Types of Teeth Whitening

Each type has its advantages, with professional treatments offering quicker and more noticeable results, while over-the-counter options are more affordable and convenient for home use. The choice largely depends on the level of whitening desired, budget, and personal preference for treatment location​​.

  1. Professional Whitening at the Dentist: This method involves spreading a high-concentration bleaching agent to the teeth. It’s highly effective and offers quick results. Dentists also ensure safety and can manage any side effects.
  2. Custom-fitted Whitening Trays and Gels: Dentists provide custom trays for home use, with a stronger gel than over-the-counter products. This method balances professional quality with the convenience of home treatment.
  3. Over-the-counter Whitening Kits: These kits include gels, strips, and trays with lower concentrations of whitening agents. They are more affordable and accessible but may offer less dramatic results compared to professional treatments.

Professional Whitening at the Dentist

The Professional Whitening procedure using UltraDent Opalescent Whitening at the dentist involves several steps to ensure effective and safe teeth whitening. Here’s an overview of what the process typically looks like:

  1. Preparation: The dentist begins by ensuring the teeth are clean and ready for whitening. This might involve a standard cleaning or specific preparations on the teeth’s surface.
  2. Application of Whitening Gel: UltraDent Opalescence Boost is a chemically activated whitening treatment that doesn’t require light activation. The gel, containing a powerful whitening agent like hydrogen peroxide, is carefully applied to the teeth. The unique feature of this gel is its ability to break down into water, oxygen, and reactive oxygen molecules, which then act on the stains to lighten the teeth.
  3. Duration of Application: The gel is left on the teeth for a specified amount of time, usually around 20 minutes per application, but this can vary based on the specific needs of the patient and the dentist’s recommendation.
  4. Removal of Gel and Evaluation: After the prescribed duration, the gel is carefully removed, and the teeth are rinsed. The dentist then evaluates the shade change and determines if additional applications are needed.
  5. Repeat Sessions: In some cases, additional sessions may be scheduled to achieve the desired level of whiteness, especially for teeth with severe discoloration.

Post-Treatment Care

Just as a great painting needs a good varnish to preserve its colors, your teeth need proper post-treatment care to maintain their new, whiter shade. 

  1. Avoid Stain-Causing Foods and Drinks: For at least 48 hours after whitening, stay away from coffee, tea, red wine, dark sodas, and other beverages or foods that can cause stains.
  2. Refrain from Smoking: Smoking can quickly yellow teeth, so it’s advisable to avoid it after whitening treatments.
  3. Use a Straw: If you do consume beverages that might stain, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.
  4. Follow Good Oral Hygiene Practices: Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and don’t forget to floss. This helps remove plaque and prevent staining.
  5. Use Whitening Toothpaste: A whitening toothpaste can help maintain the treatment results by gently removing surface stains.
  6. Regular Dental Checkups: Regular stops to your dentist for cleanings and checkups help maintain oral health and the brightness of your smile.
  7. Touch-Up Treatments: Depending on your dentist’s advice and your personal habits, occasional touch-up treatments might be necessary to maintain the desired level of whitening.
  8. Avoid Acidic Foods and Drinks: Acidic substances like citrus fruits and beverages can temporarily soften enamel, so avoiding them immediately after whitening is best.
  9. Be Mindful of Tooth Sensitivity: If you experience sensitivity after the treatment, use toothpaste developed for sensitive teeth and avoid very hot or cold foods and beverages.
  10. Follow Specific Instructions from Your Dentist: Always adhere to any specific post-care instructions provided by your dentist, as these are tailored to your individual needs and the specifics of your treatment.

Results and Expectations

Typically, professional whitening leads to visibly brighter teeth, but the extent of change varies among individuals. Factors like the initial color and type of dental stains affect the final outcome. While some might achieve dramatically lighter shades, others might see more subtle changes. Additionally, the whitening effect is not permanent. Lifestyle choices, dietary habits, and oral hygiene will influence how long the results last. Regular maintenance and realistic expectations are key for a satisfying outcome.


Are you prepared to give your smile a more polished appearance? Visit Perry Family Dentistry for their expert teeth whitening services. Our team provides you with a brighter, more confident smile using the latest techniques in dental care. Don’t wait to achieve the radiant smile you deserve. Book your appointment today at Perry Family Dentistry and take the first step towards a dazzling new you!


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