The Basics of Teeth Whitening: What Your Teen Should Know

Posted on: March 1, 2017

Teeth WhiteningTeeth whitening is one of those things that started as a fad, then quickly morphed into something generally accepted as important. As a result of more people seeking to have better-looking teeth, and teeth whitening being such a simple solution, dentists everywhere started to offer these services that were previously restricted to cosmetic dentists. In fact, there was such a huge demand, an entire industry sprung up around the whitening of teeth. Today, Americans spend roughly $1.4 billion each year on teeth whitening solutions. Whether it is getting your teen’s teeth whitened at our dentist office, seeing a cosmetic dentist specialist, buying an over-the-counter solution, or just using a teeth whitening toothpaste, the demand for whitening has grown by over 300 percent the last few years. No other treatment has been so demanded, and with good reason: teeth whitening is an effective way to improve your smile and give yourself an advantage in a number of situations. For our Redwood City dental office, this advent of teeth whitening has been interesting in that we have taken on the role as a service provider, while also being an advisor and consultant when people decide to go the “do-it-yourself” teeth whitening route.

To start with, understanding how teeth whitening works is one of the most critical places to start your journey into teeth whitening. To whiten the teeth, a peroxide-based solution is used, which is quickly absorbed into the teeth. Once inside the enamel, the solution releases free radicals in the tooth. These work to make the tooth more translucent, which the brain perceives as whiter. Understanding the importance of more translucent teeth is essential because virtually everything you eat or drink works to remove translucency and stain the teeth. There is no way to avoid all the substances that cause this effect, so it is easier to understand the importance of cleaning your teeth after you eat and drink. If you brush your teeth about 30 minutes after a meal, chances are that you will remove most of the substance left by your saliva and also remove any excessive bacterial acid that can damage your teeth, as well. The challenge arises when people like to frequently snack.

Teeth whitening is damaged by two elements in food. First is the coloring, which all food has. Even natural foods like berries have a very strong coloring element, albeit natural. Artificial coloring also works to discolor your teeth, so you do not want it or natural coloring in contact with your teeth for any length of time. People often do not realize that even the healthiest of foods can damage your teeth with their color. The other element that can damage teeth whitening is the pH levels in the drinks you have and the snacks you eat. Lower pH levels mean the food is acidic and can damage your enamel far more easily. The challenge is that when people eat a meal, they may remember to rinse or brush their teeth. But few of us remember to brush after eating a snack.

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