The science behind whiter teeth
SUMMARY: More than 100 million Americans have tried teeth whitening products. Learn about the chemicals behind the process and what works best for you!
Posted: October 8, 2013
Whiter teeth can help you look younger, more attractive and more employable, according to study conducted by Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Your smile is one of the quickest things a person notices about you, and since first impressions are everything, you should make them count!
After whitening, the majority of people feel more confident about flashing their precious pearlies. In fact, more than 100 million Americans have tried teeth whitening. It is one of the most sought-after oral hygiene products, but most people don't know what's even in them. Here's the inside scoop of how teeth stain, and the what's inside the best treatments to brighten them.
Process of darkening
Every 10 years or so, our teeth grow one to two shades darker. Think of the protective enamel covering as a piece of glass around our teeth. That glass gets scuffed, smudged and splashed on through the years. It's our job to wipe it off and keep dental plaque at bay. Moreover, as the dentin structure behind the enamel grows, the color pigments inside the tooth become more pronounced.
What we eat and drink has a profound effect on the color of our smiles. Red wine, colas, coffee, tea and tobacco products all turn teeth more yellow and brown over time. If you're worried about the beverage staining your white table cloth, then you should be concerned about it staining your teeth. The color in food derives from chromogens, which are intensely pigmented molecules that stick onto dental enamel. In addition, acidity, especially from sodas and sour candy, plagues teeth when ingested in high doses. Limit the intake of these items to keep them cleaner.
Genetics factor into the whiteness of your teeth as well. If someone's dad and grandpa didn't have the flashiest teeth, yet never had a cavity in their lives, chances are the kid in the next generation will have teeth that are healthy and fairly white. White teeth don't necessarily indicate healthy teeth, so it's important that we cover both bases.
Interestingly enough, one's race plays a role in the color of teeth too.
"Asians have slightly yellower teeth than westerners because of the increased pigmentation (which is why we're darker as well)," dental surgeon Dr. Sujit Nagrath said. "It's a myth that dark-skinned people have whiter teeth; the whiteness is only enhanced because of the skin color contrast."
What's the science behind brightening a tooth?
Teeth whitening products include active chemicals to strip stains off the enamel to create a brighter look. Most products have one of two kinds of peroxide. The first is hydrogen peroxide, which is frequently used by dentists, and can be broken down into water and whitening oxygen. The second type is carbamide peroxide, which has been proven effective in do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits. This compound breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.
As a rule of thumb, if the product gives you pain or prolonged irritation, it's best you consult your dentist and reconsider your options. Your body is telling you something.
There are a handful of different products out there that people use, but not all are created equal. Some are more beneficial than others, and what works for your neighbor might not work for you.
TheraBreath's teeth whitening products use carbamide peroxide as one of the main active ingredients. It is an oxidizer, bleaching agent and disinfectant that removes stains within tooth enamel. They are guaranteed to whiten without sensitivity, otherwise you get your money back.
For a quicker, on-the-go treatment, try out the specialty whitening mouthwashes that shed dental plaque and eliminate bad breath.
Whichever route you choose to brighten that million-dollar grin, don't forget that the best smile is both healthy and white!