Some Common Questions
What is bleaching?It's a process that lightens discolorations of enamel and dentin. The system uses a mild solution retained in a custom-fitted appliance that is worn over your teeth for several hours a day or while you sleep.
What causes tooth discoloration?There are many causes. The most common include aging, consumption of staining substances (coffee, tea, colas, tobacco), trauma, tetracycline staining, excessive fluoride, nerve degeneration, and old restorations.
Who may benefit from tooth whitening?Almost everyone. However, there are some cases where the treatment may not be effective. An oral examination and diagnosis is important to determine the viablity of treatment. Bleaching is ideal for patients who have healthy, unrestored teeth and would like to have a whiter, brighter smile.
Is the process safe?Research indicates that bleaching teeth under the supervision of a dentist is safe for teeth and gums.
How does it work?The bleaching gel is placed in a thin bleaching tray that is custom made to fit over your teeth. As the active ingredient in the gel, carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin and bleaches the colored substances. The structure of the tooth is not changed; only the tooth color is made lighter.
How long does it take?As little as one hour when an in office bleaching light is used, or three days with the take home overnight bleaching kit.
Are there any side effects?Some people experience increased tooth sensitivity to cold during the treatment. Others have reported temporary discomfort, such as gum or tooth sensitivity. These symptoms always disappear within 1-3 days after interruption or completion of the treatment.
How long do the results last?The teeth will always be lighter than they were, but some patients may need periodic re-bleaching for one or two nights every six to twelve months.
The Bleaching Process
Take home bleaching:
1. During your diagnostic visit impressions of your teeth will be made. These will be used to make custom gel holding bleaching trays.
2. On your second visit, you will be fitted with the trays and be given the bleaching gel and be instructed on how to administer it and how often to wear your trays.
3. Follow the take home directions carefully, continuing to maintain proper oral hygiene through brushing and flossing. Maximum esthetic results will be obtained in most cases in two to three weeks.
A more youthful and brighter smile is the result following bleaching. These teeth were also recontoured.
In office bleaching:
1. A light is used to activate the whitening gel.
2. All the soft tissues in and around the mouth are protected prior to applying the light to the teeth.
3. Three fifteen minute applications of gel are applied to the teeth.
4. Custom fitted bleaching trays and gel are provided for periodic touch up bleaching.