A bright, white smile has been a sign of beauty and health for millennia. Historical research indicates that the ancient Egyptians were also so preoccupied with the whiteness of their teeth that they mixed pumice stone with white vinegar to make a whitening toothpaste.
The Romans used a combination of goat milk and stale urine to whiten their teeth, and surprisingly it may have worked, as the ammonia in urine is a bleaching agent.
Fortunately, modern whitening treatments aren’t gross or uncomfortable. Our expert Dr. Sabrina Mickel offers both in-office and at-home whitening treatments. Below, we asked her to explain how teeth whitening works and who’s a good candidate for the treatment.
To understand the cause of tooth stains, it helps to understand a bit about the anatomy of the tooth.
The tooth is covered in a thin layer of enamel, and underneath the enamel lies the dentin. The enamel is white, while the dentin, which makes up the bulk of the tooth, is yellowish.
Enamel can be stained by coffee, tea, juices, and cigarette smoke. The only foods that don’t stain the enamel are meat and dairy. Any fruit and vegetable that contains pigment has the potential to stain teeth.
Many treatments use hydrogen peroxide to break down the stains at a molecular level. Over-the-counter whitening treatments also contain hydrogen peroxide but at a much lower concentration.
In-office treatments are more effective, because the concentration of the active ingredient is higher, yet the gums are kept safe thanks to the application of a special rubber dam between the teeth and the gums.
At-home whitening treatments prescribed by dentists are also effective, but they take longer to provide results. When it comes to effectiveness, they’re somewhere between over-the-counter products and in-office treatments.
Dr. Mickel offers both in-office and at-home options.
It’s preferable that you don’t have fillings or crowns on the teeth you wish to whiten, as these don’t get whitened by the treatment. In addition, your enamel shouldn’t be worn down.
If you’re looking for ways to whiten your smile, contact us to schedule an appointment. Dr. Mickel can guide you toward the best solution for your cosmetic goals. In addition to teeth whitening, Dr. Mickel offers other cosmetic procedures such as veneers for a more permanent solution for a white smile.