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Tooth whitening is a chemical process. The peroxide in the whitening agent breaks down into tiny molecules that move inside the tooth structure, where they break down any molecules that cause discoloration. Because of this process, the entire tooth is lightened, even if the entire tooth is not covered with bleach. However, the structure of the tooth is not altered; the internal tooth color is simply lightened. Enamel, dentin, and current fillings and cements are not affected or harmed by the peroxide.