Tooth whitening (bleaching) is a simple, cost effective, non-invasive and fast way to improve your smile. Tooth whitening works by removing embedded stains from your enamel to lighten and brighten your teeth.
It is important to note that tooth whitening only works on your natural enamel. Any dental restorations such as fillings or crowns will not change color and would need to be replaced if they are discolored. This can be done after whitening to achieve the best cosmetic results.
There are many ways to whiten teeth. At home whitening can be performed using bleaching trays and whitening gel. Trays also can be purchased preformed and pre-loaded with whitening gel. These trays mold to the teeth as you wear them and are discarded after one use. Typically, about 10 trays are needed to achieve a noticeably whiter smile.
Another method is custom fitted trays that are used with a syringe of whitening gel. An impression of your teeth is taken and these trays are molded to precisely contour to your teeth. These trays are loaded with a small amount of whitening gel on the front side of each tooth to be bleached. After each use they are cleaned and stored. These can be used for many years as needed.
In office whitening is a faster method using a much stronger concentration of whitening gel. It is typically performed in a single office visit. A special barrier is placed over the gums to prevent irritation and the whitening materials are applied to teeth. After some time, these are rinsed and gel is reapplied as needed until the best possible results are achieved.
All whitening treatments can cause some sensitivity to the teeth. This is typically mild and reversible. When using at home whitening treatments, it is important to remove any excess whitening gel from the gums, as this can cause irritation to the gums.
With proper use, tooth whitening can help you achieve a bright and vibrant smile for years to come.
All toothpastes help remove surface stains, because they contain mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that helps lighten the color deep in the tooth. Whitening toothpastes can lighten the tooth’s color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist’s office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy, unrestored teeth (no fillings) and gums.
Key aspects to know.
Whitening gels are clear, peroxide-based gels applied with a small brush directly to the surface of your teeth. Instructions vary depending on the strength of the peroxide. Follow the directions on the product carefully. Initial results are seen in a few days and final results are sustained for about four months.
Whitening strips are very thin, virtually invisible strips that are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. The strips are applied twice daily for 30 minutes for 14 days. Initial results are seen in a few days and final results are sustained for about four months.
Among the newest whitening products available are whitening rinses. Like most mouthwashes, they freshen breath and help reduce dental plaque and gum disease. But these products also include ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide in some, which whiten teeth. Manufacturers say it may take 12 weeks to see results. You just swish them around in your mouth for 60 seconds twice a day before brushing your teeth. However, some experts say that rinses may not be as effective as other over-the-counter whitening products. Because a whitening rinse is only in contact with the teeth for such a short time — just two minutes a day compared to 30 minutes for many strips — it may have less of an effect.