THE SCI­ENCE OF WHITENING YOUR TEETH

Fiji Sun - - Sun Spectrum -

The tough enamel cov­er­ing our teeth is largely made up of a min­eral called hy­drox­ya­p­atite - which is com­posed of cal­cium and phos­phate ions ar­ranged into rod-shaped crys­tals. But mol­e­cules of food and drink can be­come lodged be­tween th­ese crys­tals, dis­colour­ing the teeth. The stan­dard dental weapons of brush­ing, floss­ing and rins­ing will re­move most of this, but some of the stains will stick around.

As per­ox­ide is an ox­i­dis­ing agent it ‘steels’ elec­trons from the mol­e­cules stain­ing the teeth, dis­rupt­ing the chro­mophore – which gives the mol­e­cule its colour – in the same way bleach cleans stains from clothes. While the most ex­pen­sive op­tion, dental pro­fes­sion­als are able to use the high­est con­cen­tra­tions of per­ox­ide and so will be able to send peo­ple on their way with a win­ning smile.

Whitening gels use per­ox­ide, an ox­i­dis­ing agent which ‘steels’ elec­trons from the mol­e­cules stain­ing the teeth. This dis­rupts the chro­mophore - which gives the mol­e­cule its colour - in the same way bleach cleans stains from clothes

But mol­e­cules of food and drink can be­come lodged be­tween th­ese crys­tals, dis­colour­ing the teeth

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