How Teeth Whitening Works

Teeth get discolored because of large stain molecules that get trapped in your tooth enamel. Your teeth might feel smooth, but they’re actually full of tiny pits and crags, especially if you enjoy acidic foods and beverages, or it’s been a long time since your last dental appointment (where we polish your teeth). Many foods and beverages contain these staining compounds (even foods and drinks that look white), so it’s natural to accumulate stains over time.
Whitening works because the whitening chemicals break down the stain molecules, releasing them from your teeth.

Not when done according to guidelines. Teeth whitening can remove minerals from your teeth, but the body has the ability to replenish lost minerals. If you’re brushing and flossing and not whitening too much, your body will replace the lost minerals to keep your teeth healthy.

No. Whitening doesn’t use bleach, and it works by removing stains, not by painting your teeth artificially white.

Advantages of Whitening at the Dentist

These days, there are many options for teeth whitening that you can get at every grocery, drug, or convenience store. So why should you go to a dentist for whitening? When you go to a dentist, you will:

One of the big problems with using whiteners form the store is that people try to whiten teeth that aren’t healthy or that won’t respond to whitening. When you work with a dentist, they will make sure whitening will be safe and effective for you.
Another problem is that store-bought whiteners are relatively weak to try to make them safer. This means they might not work well for you. Plus, it can be hard to use the strips, swabs, and trays they use, so you might end up with uneven whitening, which can look unattractive. At our office, we either paint the whitener on your entire tooth surface or give you custom-fitted trays that ensure even contact between the whitener and your teeth.
Tooth sensitivity affects many people who whiten their teeth, but we have ways to diminish it. Talk to us about your sensitivity and we’ll customize your procedure to control it.

Limitations of Teeth Whitening

While whitening is a very effective way to remove tooth stains, it does have limitations. It won’t work if your teeth are discolored because of:

  • Defects in the enamel
  • Metal fillings
  • Thin or damaged enamel
  • Discoloration from within the tooth

If you have teeth damaged by fluorosis or other enamel defects, whitening won’t do much to help. Metal fillings start out silver, but they turn black when they rust. This can actually discolor your entire tooth, and whitening won’t help. Whitening also doesn’t help if your enamel is thin because of erosion or damaged by oral bacteria, trauma, or other causes. Finally, it won’t help if the source of discoloration is inside the tooth, such as bruising or infection of the tooth pulp.
In these cases, we might recommend tooth-colored fillings, dental veneers, or dental crowns to cover the tooth discoloration. For damaged or infected teeth, root canal therapy might also be necessary.

Brighter Smiles in the Coachella Valley

Are you unhappy because your smile is too dim? We have the power to brighten your smile, even if it won’t respond to teeth whitening. Please call (760) 832-7915 today for an appointment with cosmetic dentist Dr. Rod Strober at Country Club Dentistry in Rancho Mirage.