In this Golden Age of the selfie we are more obsessed about the whiteness of our teeth than ever. There are many at-home whitening kits and tricks that you can try. Some do not work so well, such as apple cider vinegar, while others that you can buy at the store have been approved by the American Dental Association for use.

With so many options out there it may be kind of tricky to figure out which option is the best. So what exactly is the best way to whiten teeth?

The Ins and Outs of Whitening

A recent video from “Reactions,” a YouTube group that creates videos explaining the chemistry behind everyday activities, does a fantastic job of explaining how whitening works on the chemical level. The enamel of your teeth is made up of this mineral called hydroxyapatite which is formed from compressed crystalline rods at the molecular level. The microscopic gaps in these rods allow for stains to soak into the enamel.

When we use at-home whitening kits we are exposing our teeth to a form of peroxide, either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Peroxide oxidizes the enamel of the teeth, stealing away electrons which disrupt the chemical bonds in the stain, and leech the stain out of the enamel, leaving our teeth sparkling white.

What Works, What Doesn’t

Most whitening strips have some kind of peroxide gel on them which should work well to eliminate some stains on your teeth. Whitening mouthwashes also contain peroxide, but may not be as effective because they are not in contact with your enamel as long as a whitening strip would be.

Most whitening toothpastes differ from the gels, strips, and mouthwashes in that they whiten your teeth by scrubbing your teeth with an abrasive silica which cleans the surface of your teeth but does not get down into the enamel like other products.

Some toothpastes try to offset staining with a blueing agent called “blue covarine” which binds to the surface of the teeth leaving a bluish tint that is meant to eliminate yellow stains. The best way to think of this is as a form of color correction, it doesn’t actually remove the stain, but rather masks it.

Caution and Some Advice

Most people do not realize that teeth whitening works in much the same way as bleaching white clothes, and it can be damaging to your enamel if not used properly. A dentist can help you safely meet your whitening needs. If you are adamant about whitening your teeth at home you should consult with your dentist before you start whitening. Do not use multiple whiteners at once, and always follow the directions for each whitener.

If you are looking for a dentist that you can trust in the Las Vegas area, contact our team at James B. Polley, DDS. Dr. Polley can help you get that sparkling white smile that you have always wanted safely, and can identify any other issues that may arise with your teeth. Give us a call at (702) 873-0324 to schedule an appointment today.