It is normal for teeth to yellow or become stained over time, but teeth whitening can return a smile to its original brightness. The American Association of Orthodontics reports that more than 30% of Americans are unhappy with their smile. Getting teeth whitened is a simple, easy process that can help anyone regain confidence in…
Teeth Whitening: Focus on Enamel and Dentin
It should not be surprising that teeth whitening is a popular process. This treatment can eliminate unsightly stains on the teeth and make smiles beautiful once again. To understand how this treatment works, it is helpful to know more about the structure of the tooth. Two of the most important parts of the tooth are the enamel and dentin. The whitening procedure focuses largely on these layers.
Important elements of teeth whitening
Getting whiter teeth does not have to be an impossible task. Adults can see the help of a dentist to make visible changes to the color of their teeth. In-office professional procedures can yield fast, lasting results. Most processes use a high amount of hydrogen peroxide in gel form. This goes on the person’s teeth for about an hour and begins to penetrate the tooth and break down the stains. The patient should only have to do this treatment once or twice every couple of years to maintain white teeth.
An overview of enamel
Enamel is the outer layer of the tooth. Like a shell, it covers and protects the tooth. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body, so it can withstand years of wear and tear as well as strong forces. Naturally, the enamel is white or light gray. It bolsters the tooth against the daily use of chewing and biting. Still, enamel can crack or chip. Poor oral hygiene or certain foods and beverages can also stain the enamel.
An overview of dentin
Beneath the enamel is a layer called dentin. It consists of calcified tissue and is much softer than enamel. Dentin supports the structure of the tooth and strengthens the enamel. It surrounds the pulp, which contains nerves, vessels, and other tissue. Dentin is typically yellow but can be gray or black in some people’s teeth.
What happens during whitening processes
When a patient does teeth whitening, the dentin does not become white. Rather, the hydrogen peroxide molecules go inside the enamel and break down the stain-causing molecules into smaller components. It is important for patients to know that they should not seek treatments that claim to whiten the dentin. Also, people will see varying results of whitening treatments due to the natural color of their teeth.
Other ways to keep the enamel strong and beautiful
Along with teeth whitening procedures, patients can follow different methods to maintain a bright smile. Daily brushing and flossing will remove plaque and tartar from teeth. Avoiding stain-causing foods and beverages will also help. People of all ages should consistently go to the dentist’s office for examinations. At these appointments, the hygienist will clean and polish the teeth, helping to keep stains away.
Keep your teeth looking nice
It can be difficult to achieve the smile you want. With hard work, however, you can minimize discoloration. Teeth whitening works beneath the enamel layer, removing stains from this shell. Meanwhile, good oral hygiene will bolster the dentin, which is critical to the entire tooth. Visit your dentist if you have questions about whitening your teeth and how to protect the enamel and dentin.
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