How Does Teeth Whitening Work? Here’s What You Need To Know

How Does Teeth Whitening Work 1

Are you considering teeth whitening? If so, you’re certainly not alone. The current global teeth whitening market is estimated to be valued at around $3 billion and is set to reach a staggering $6 billion by 2026.

But what exactly is it about this procedure that can turn a discoloured smile into a stunning white smile worthy of the red carpet? Discover the answer to “how does teeth whitening work” along with all you should know before scheduling an appointment.

How does whitening work?

There are plenty of whitening treatments available on the market but that doesn’t mean that you should buy into them or that they work. The popularity of teeth whitening is evident as shown by the booming market but perhaps it’s not regulated quite as well as it should be.

Teeth whitening offers a safe and effective way to enhance your smile, but navigating the options can be confusing. Let’s demystify the process and explore how different methods work:

Surface Stain Removal:

Think of everyday beverages like coffee or tea as leaving tiny color deposits on your teeth. Most readily available whitening products, like toothpaste or over-the-counter strips, act like gentle abrasives, polishing away these superficial stains to reveal a naturally brighter tooth surface.

Dentin Bleaching:

For deeper stains or a more dramatic whitening effect, professional treatments utilizing peroxide-based bleaches are available. These agents gently break down pigment molecules within the dentin, the layer beneath your enamel, achieving a more pronounced and long-lasting whitening effect.

Light-Activated Enhancement:

Certain professional systems employ lasers or UV lights to activate the bleaching process, accelerating results and potentially leading to a whiter shade.


It’s important to remember that:

  • Individual results may vary depending on the severity of discoloration. Consulting your dentist can ensure you choose the most suitable approach for your specific smile.
  • Temporary sensitivity is a common side effect, particularly with stronger treatments. Your dentist can advise on effective management strategies.
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for lasting brightness and preventing future staining.

Many whitening products found on store shelves can harm the teeth and/or gums if used too often or with ill-fitting trays, for example. Rather than risking irreversible damage, more people than ever are turning to professionals to lighten their teeth.

There are in essence two answers to this question. Because there are two types of staining – extrinsic and intrinsic – there are different methods to treat it.

Extrinsic vs intrinsic teeth whitening

Extrinsic staining refers to situations where the teeth have become discoloured on the exterior. In other words, they haven’t penetrated the tooth enamel and are therefore easy to treat.

Surface stains and extrinsic discolouration are considered superficial and respond well to whitening treatments that contain hydrogen peroxide that acts as a bleaching agent.

Tooth enamel is porous and when the whitening gel is applied to the surface of the teeth, the hydrogen peroxide is easily able to penetrate the origin of stubborn stains and lighten their tone to make the teeth appear cleaner and brighter. Most patients can experience up to 6 shades lighter, although it depends on the colour of their teeth when the whitening treatment was carried out.

How does teeth whitening work? – The procedures

The procedure for Zoom is simple. Our dentist applies the Zoom whitening gel to the teeth and activates it with a high-intensity laser as you simply sit back and relax while it works its magic. The gel is applied, left for 15 minutes and removed, three times in total to ensure that the result is a whiter, healthier-looking smile.


In a little less than 60 minutes, patients can say goodbye to a dingy smile and hello to a sparkling white smile to be proud of.

Patients opting for Boutique take-home teeth whitening kits will be issued with snug-fitting custom whitening trays and shown how to fill them with the whitening agent.

They can then whiten their teeth by wearing the trays for 1.5 hours per day or as they sleep depending on their chosen formula. Dentist will advise you on the time frame to achieve optimum results.

What about intrinsic staining?

Intrinsic staining refers to tooth discolouration that affects the dentin, or interior layer of the teeth. When the tooth enamel has worn down or the dentin is significantly discoloured, the discolouration is highly visible. Because it doesn’t respond well to conventional teeth whitening treatments, it requires a different approach.

The best possible way to treat intrinsic staining is usually to conceal it. Porcelain veneers and composite bonding are good options. Veneers are fitted to the front surface of the teeth and covered with a thin shell of porcelain. Because porcelain has a similar translucency to teeth enamel, they look extremely natural-looking and since porcelain doesn’t stain as easily as teeth enamel, your teeth will look permanently white. Composite bonding is a cheaper alternative to veneers and involves painting a tooth-coloured resin onto the teeth to conceal stains and blemishes. While the effect is similar, bonding is less durable than veneers.

Older patients may find that their tooth discolouration is a combination of intrinsic staining due to thinning enamel and extrinsic staining and sometimes conventional whitening treatments will improve their appearance.

Knowing what has caused your teeth to discolour is important because if you use the wrong method, you’re unlikely to get the results you had hoped for. This is why it’s best to seek advice from your dentist to determine the best method of teeth whitening for you.

So now you have the answer to “how does teeth whitening work” perhaps you’re keen to enhance your smile with teeth whitening. If you want to know more information, keep in touch with our friendly team.