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5 Things to Know About Tooth Whitening

Things to Know About Tooth Whitening
Things to Know About Tooth Whitening

Regular brushing and flossing are the primary ways to keep your teeth bright and healthy. Still, if you feel like your smile is lacking the sparkle or is more yellow than it used to be, you’re not alone. For readers like you, we have listed the most commonly asked questions about the teeth whitening process and what needs to be done in various circumstances.

1. Why Does Tooth Change Colour?

With time, your teeth can turn from white to not-so-bright due to various reasons mentioned below:

Food and Drink

Tea, coffee and red wines are some of the prime factors of teeth staining. They all have intense colour pigments called chromogens in common that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth (enamel).


There is a softer area called dentin under the hard, white outer shell of your teeth. With the passage of time, the outer enamel layer becomes thin, and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.

Tobacco Use

The two chemicals, tar and nicotine which are found in tobacco cause stubborn stains. Tar is naturally dark while nicotine is colourless till it gets mixed with oxygen. Finally, nicotine turns into a surface-staining, yellowish substance.


The side effects of high blood pressure medications, antipsychotics and antihistamines may lead to tooth darkening. Chemotherapy can also darken your teeth. Young children or toddlers who are exposed to antibiotics like doxycycline and tetracycline during the process of teeth formation (either in the womb or as a baby) may have discoloration of their permanent teeth later in life. 


In case you get hit in the mouth, the colour of the tooth may change as the injury may lay down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel.

2. How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Whitening products usually contain one of the two teeth bleaches namely hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The stains are broken down into smaller pieces by bleaching, which would make the colour less concentrated and your teeth brighter. Thus, teeth’s whitening is a very simple process.

3. Will whitening be effective on all the teeth?

Consult your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not be effective on all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond and grey tones teeth may not bleach at all. Moreover, whitening will not work on caps, crowns, veneers or fillings. It also won’t be effective if the tooth discoloration is caused by a tooth injury or medications.

4. What are my whitening options?

Discuss with your dentist before the initiation of the process. Basically, there are four ways to sparkle your smile again. Use Stain Removal Toothpastes Most of the toothpaste help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives that scrub the teeth. However, try using clinically accepted or prescribed toothpaste by your dentist as these would have additional polishing agents which are safe for teeth and removes the stain effectively. Unlike bleaches, these products only remove stains on the surface rather than changing the colour of teeth. In-Office Bleaching  The process is called chairside bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The dentist will apply either a rubber shield to protect your gums or a protective gel to your gums. Bleach is then applied to your teeth. At-Home Bleaching from Your Dentist Dentists can provide you with a custom-made tray for at-home whitening. You will be instructed on how to place the bleaching solution in the tray and the duration of time. This is one of the suitable options if you are more comfortable whitening in your own home at a slower pace, under the guidance of a dentist. The entire process may take from a few days to a few weeks.  Over-the-Counter Bleaching Products

These days a lot of option is available online or in local grocery shops like the strips or toothpaste that whiten your teeth by bleaching. However, these products contain less concentration of the bleaching agent than what your dentist would use in the clinic. If you are thinking about using an over-the-counter bleaching kit, discuss options with your dentist, which would ensure that these are effective for teeth whitening and tested to be safe for use. 

5. What are the side effects of teeth whitening?

Usage of teeth whiteners may lead to tooth sensitivity. This happens because the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin generating irritation in the nerve of your tooth. In most of the cases, the sensitivity is temporary. You may delay the treatment and try again.

Please keep in mind that overuse of whiteners may damage the gums or tooth enamel, so make sure to follow instructions and consult your dentist.

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