James Island Dental Associates
Restorative, Cosmetic, and Implant Dentistry

What's Happening to Your Teeth during Whitening?

Woman Getting Her Teeth Whitened | Dentist Charleston SC

Professional teeth whitening has continued to gain in popularity, and no wonder. It’s safe, easy, affordable, and quick. You can make an appointment for teeth whitening during your lunch hour—and leave the dentist with teeth many shades whiter than when you came in.

If you have been thinking about teeth whitening in Charleston, you might be wonder just what is happening to your teeth during whitening. Let’s take a look at just how the process works.

Your Tooth Enamel

The “enamel” portion of your tooth is the outer layer. The color of that outer layer is a reflection of the color of the dentin layer below the enamel. The thickness and smoothness of your tooth enamel is something you are born with. The thinner the enamel, the more the dentin layer beneath it shows. The tooth enamel can hold onto stains from lifestyle habits such as:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking staining liquids such as coffee, tea, and wine
  • Poor oral care

These are known as “extrinsic” stains.

As we get older, the enamel on our teeth naturally gets thinner, so the dentin that shows through makes your teeth look darker.

There can also be stains inside the tooth. Called “intrinsic stains,” these are usually caused by exposure to excess fluoride while teeth are developing or tetracycline antibiotics taken by a pregnant woman. Sometimes trauma can cause a tooth to become a darker color.

The Whitening Process

Most dentists will recommend that you have your teeth cleaned before teeth whitening to ensure better results.

In-office teeth whitening involves the use of a more powerful whitening gel than anything you can purchase over-the-counter. The active ingredient of the whitening gel is usually carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, which permeates the teeth, lifting even the most deep-seated stains.

A specialized light is also used to activate the whitening gel. The process is usually repeated up to three times during an appointment, depending on how stained your teeth are and how white you would like them to be. Keep in mind that teeth whitening is more effective on extrinsic stains than intrinsic.

Find out more about teeth whitening in Charleston, contact James Island Dental Associates. Call us today!