Teeth whitening, also known as bleaching, is a process that lighten the colour of your teeth. Teeth whitening give you a brighter, whiter and healthier looking smile.

Tooth discolouration is a common occurrence. Lifestyle factors such as smoking and the type of food and drinks we consume may affect the colour of our teeth. Consumables containing colourants like coffee, red wine and curries are common factors resulting in tooth discolouration.

Tooth discolouration can be classified as either internal of external. External or extrinsic staining occurs on the outside of the tooth in other words on the enamel of the tooth. Internal or intrinsic staining occurs deeper in the tooth at the region of the dentin.

Whitening toothpastes and professional cleaning of teeth only removes the extrinsic stains from teeth. Bleaching of teeth also known as professional teeth whitening changes the colour of teeth chemically. This process gives the teeth a lighter appearance.

The active ingredients in professional teeth whitening products are either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.

The active ingredient penetrates the enamel to reach the internal discoloured molecules in the dentin. Oxygen molecules in the bleaching agent react with the discoloured molecules in the dentin. The reaction breaks the bonds between the discoloured molecules. The oxygen molecules spread through the internal structure whitening the tooth from the inside.

Numerous articles found that teeth whitening is completely safe when done by a dental professional. The only side effect may be slight sensitivity after bleaching. This is only temporarily and a sensitive toothpaste will provide the necessary relief.

It is recommend to always consult your dentist before using teeth whitening products. It is recommended by the ADA that over the counter tooth whitening products best be avoided. Only dental professionals may do teeth whitening for patients by law.