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What’s the Difference Between Teeth Whitening and Bleaching

The dazzling smiles of celebrities are often their most attractive features. It’s no wonder that ordinary people are taking steps to emulate the stars via teeth whitening kits and solutions. Although it is possible to buy products over the counter, a cosmetic dentist can provide a professional and longer-lasting answer.

Tooth discoloration is a natural process that takes place over time. It occurs when the hard, porcelain-like enamel surface of the tooth starts to break down and develop micro-fractures. Through these tiny lines, the underlying, softer, yellowish dentin layer of the tooth begins to show through and take on stains and pigmentation. The degree of yellowing depends on heredity, what you eat and drink, whether you have habits such as smoking or teeth grinding and on certain medications such as Tetracycline.

Strictly speaking, there is a difference between teeth whitening and teeth bleaching. Whitening involves using cleaning agents like special toothpastes and rinses to get rid of stains and debris that are discoloring your teeth. The goal is to restore your teeth to their natural shade. Bleaching, on the other hand, uses teeth bleach products that actually can make your teeth several shades whiter than they would naturally be. Teeth bleach products use chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Since the companies who market these products are wary of the term “bleach” for these items, they often identify them as teeth whiteners instead.

Whitening products contain ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that is applied directly to the enamel surface of the teeth. Oxygen molecules from the peroxides find their way into the tiny fractures and break down the pigments that have been causing the discoloration. Depending on the type of whitening treatment, this can happen quickly or over the course of several hours.

Another whitening method uses laser technology. A special gel is applied to your teeth. Then your dentist will use a high-intensity UV lamp to stimulate the release of oxygen that will break down the pigmentation.

With all of the teeth whitening and bleaching products on the shelves today, it can be difficult to decide which one to choose. While it may be tempting to grab the first thing you see at your local pharmacy, you should instead strongly consider consulting a cosmetic dentist. This is because the ready-made consumer products are not customized for your individual teeth, dental work and level of discoloration. In addition, the over-the-counter solutions are not available in the high concentrations that can be professionally administered by a cosmetic dentist. Finally, these premium products will have more lasting results.

If you want that sought-after Hollywood smile, modern whitening and bleaching products can make it a reality for you. Ask your dentist for an appointment today, and you will soon have something to smile about.