With time, our teeth lose their brightness and this happens without our notice. We only become aware of our discolored teeth when it is too late. Have you ever thought about why our teeth lose their brightness? Well, there may be several factors involved but the major reasons for teeth darkening are smoking and drinking beverages like coffee, colas, wines, and tea, etc. All these lifestyle-related factors stain our teeth with time and we all end up with not-so-bright teeth. But there is good news and that is you can undo your stained teeth and can get back a sparkling smile. Getting back your white teeth is a science in itself which you need to understand.
The Science Behind Teeth Whitening
For understanding, the science behind teeth whitening, you must understand the structure of ‘human tooth’. The human tooth is made up of four parts namely enamel dentin, cementum, and pulp tissue. Enamel is the outermost layer while pulp tissue is the innermost part of the tooth. The visible portion of the tooth is known as the dental crown while the submerged portion is called the tooth root. It is the dental crown that makes our smile healthy, glittering, and attractive. In the tooth crown, the outer enamel layer and the underlying dentin layer are the most important for teeth coloration. The outer enamel is translucent and porous. When you smoke or drink a cup of coffee, the coloring pigments in tobacco and coffee pass the porous enamel only to be deposited on the dentin. So dentin is stained and our teeth get discolored. After understanding teeth staining, now you can easily understand that why normal toothpastes can’t whiten teeth-normal toothpastes can only remove stains from the enamel.
As normal toothpastes can’t give you sparkling smile so you must seek professional help for whitening your teeth. When you visit your dentist, he will examine your oral health and then will apply a bleaching agent-normally hydrogen peroxide are carbamide peroxide-for removing stains from your dentin. This in-office whitening treatment is a simple procedure and is called ‘chairside bleaching’. Chairside bleaching usually requires one office visit.
In case, you don’t want to undergo chairside bleaching then your dentist can provide you with a custom-made tray for at-home whitening. You will also be provided with a bleaching solution or gel. The dentist will give you detailed guidelines about the use and duration of the procedure of at-home whitening treatment. Whether ‘chairside bleaching’ or at-home whitening treatment under the supervision of a dentist; visiting a dentist is a costly business and therefore everyone can’t afford it. As compared to professional whitening treatment, over-the-counter teeth whitening products are a cheaper alternative. Among over-the-counter whitening products, teeth whitening kits are more popular.
Teeth Whitening Kits
Teeth whitening kits are the preferred home whitening solution these days. A typical teeth whitening kit consists of trays usually made up of high-quality plastic and whitening gel or solution. Trays are filled with whitening gel and then are placed into the mouth for a while. After wearing a tray, whitening gel penetrates through the porous enamel and washes out stains on the dentin.
The whitening gel is mainly of two types; peroxide and non-peroxide. In the former type, either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is the bleaching agent while in the later, sodium-based compounds like sodium chlorite or sodium bicarbonate are used as the whitening agent. Some whitening gels also contain activators that help enhance teeth whitening.
The whitening gels of these kits contain less amount of bleaching agent as compared to whitening gels administered by professionals-dentists. For example, the whitening gel of the kit contains only 0.1 % of hydrogen peroxide while a dentist can administer as high as 6% hydrogen peroxide. Because of the lower concentration of peroxide, whitening gels comparatively take more time to whiten teeth. Some people find it inconvenient to wear the whitening tray as they are not used to it.
Despite the few downsides, teeth whitening kits give us the freedom of time and space. We can whiten our teeth in the comfort of our homes- thanks to these portable whitening kits. These whitening kits can also be used by people with sensitive teeth. Since the amount of hydrogen peroxide is lower in the kits so they don’t sensitize teeth and can comfortably clean the sensitive teeth. Finally, teeth whitening kits are much cheaper than a chairside procedure- in the UK, the cost of professional teeth whitening treatment ranges from 200 to 300 pounds while a teeth whitening kit treatment may cost only 30 to 50 pounds.
Types of Teeth Whitening Kits
There are three major types of teeth whitening kits.
- Kits with moldable trays
- Kits with prefilled trays
- kits with either type of tray and LED light
How Teeth Whitening Kits Work
The working process of a teeth whitening kit is pretty simple. The trays containing the whitening gel is worn tightly so that whitening gel in the tray penetrates the porous enamel to reach the dentin layer of your teeth. Once reached the dentin, the bleaching agent starts its bleaching process and breaks down stain molecules. Gels with higher concentrations of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide are more effective as compared with those having lower concentrations of peroxide. Usually, you have to wear a tray from 10 to 30 minutes a day and the treatment may range from few days to few weeks.
For whitening your teeth with whitening kits, usually, the process will involve the following steps.
- First of all, brush your teeth.
- Then, remove trays from the packaging.
- Fix both trays onto your teeth.
- Close your mouth, but bite down hard to avoid oozing of the gel.
- Keep the trays in position for the specified period as in the instructions. Afterward, remove and dispose of the trays.
- Use water to rinse the teeth and gums of any excess gel.
Teeth Whitening Kits and Their Cost in the UK
Here are the five most popular teeth whitening kits you can buy in the UK.
- HiSmile Teeth Whitening Kit
The HiSmile teeth whitening kit is an at-home teeth whitening solution. You have to wear it for 10 minutes a day for 6 consecutive days. This kit costs about 45 to 50 pounds.
- iwhite Instant Teeth Whitening Kit
iwhite Instant teeth whitening kit contains ten prefilled trays. You have to wear it for 20 minutes once a day. Five days’ treatment would be enough for giving you a bright smile. The cost of this kit ranges from 30 to 35 pounds.
- COCO LAB Teeth Whitening Kit
COCO LAB teeth whitening kit resembles the HiSmile whitening kit. This kit contains whitening gel in three syringes which is enough for ten days. This kit will cost you 45 to 50 pounds.
- Smile Science Harley Street Professional Teeth Whitening Kit
The treatment procedure of this kit will take 20 minutes every day. This kit has additional vitamin-rich toothpaste for improving your oral health. This kit will cost you around 30 to 35 pounds.
- Luster Pro Light Teeth Whitening System
This Luster kit can reverse yellow stains of your teeth very effectively. You have to use it for 30 minutes a day and it will cost you around 45 to 50 pounds.
According to the ‘American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’, a smile is the most important social feature. Therefore our smile deserves a little investment of time and finance and these portable teeth whitening kits are the best products for improving our ‘most important social feature’.