Dental whitening is the process of using a peroxide compound to bleach the enamel of teeth. This technique can be used to lighten stains caused by food and drink, plaque accumulation, and tobacco use. It is most commonly marketed as “whitening”.
Before bleaching, the dentist may apply a phosphoric acid solution to remove surface stains. This also helps prepare the tooth for additional procedures by smoothing out irregularities on its surface. The most common type of bleaching agent used is hydrogen peroxide gel. A thin layer is painted on the teeth and allowed to dry for a few minutes. The gel is activated by either heat from a special light or an acid solution which may be applied with a cotton swab or brush depending on the concentration of peroxide used.