Teeth whitening or teeth bleaching is a popular procedure people undertake when they want to brighten their smiles. It is quick, painless and affordable, particularly when done under the supervision of the dentist. If you are thinking about trying teeth whitening, one of the concerns you may have is if the bleaching process will damage your enamel. This post will address your apprehension in detail.
What is enamel?
This is a protective layer that's designed to cover each tooth. According to experts, the enamel is the most robust tissue in the body of a human, and it comprises of tiny tubules which can't be viewed with the naked eyes — a microscope is needed.
When teeth get stained, it's not the enamel that gets affected but the subsequent tissue called the dentin. All the stains penetrate the enamel and get absorbed in the dentin. Since toothpaste isn't designed to pierce the enamel tubules, it becomes impossible for it to reach the stains. That's the reason people still brush regularly as recommended by dentists but still have stained teeth.
How teeth whitening works
To successfully whiten your teeth, a product that can flow through your enamel tubules is required. It's the only way to eliminate the underlying stains that have accumulated and stained the dentin. Unlike toothpaste, whitening products (especially those the dentist uses, not the over-the-counter ones) can quickly flow through the enamel layer and get to the inner tissue. This way, the bleaching gel, among other whitening elements, gets to the dentin.
The UV light that's applied by the dentist activates the chemicals in the whitening products and enables them to flow through the enamel and clean out the stains. However, as the bleaching chemicals do their whitening task, the enamel tubules remain open, and this makes them vulnerable — a state known as dehydration.
This is the reason most people experience tooth sensitivity after the bleaching procedure and misguidedly think that their enamel is damaged. After the whitening process, the enamel tubules take time to heal, making the teeth even more vulnerable to staining when you take dark drinks or foods. This is the reason your dentist will recommend that you avoid such foods and beverages for a few days.
Does the enamel get damaged?
Of course not. Teeth sensitivity after a teeth whitening procedure doesn't mean the enamel is damaged. The situation is temporal and will cease soon. Your saliva completes the rehydration process and enables the required nutrients to penetrate the tubules, sealing them again.
If you think that you could benefit from tooth whitening, then talk with a local dentist.