Bleaching of teeth is a procedure which is useful in lightening discolorations which have accumulated on the tooth surface over a period of time. This process causes the whitening of teeth with the help of a mild bleaching solution. This method is ideal for stains caused by age or food.
What causes staining of teeth?
The most common causes include aging, consumption of staining substances (coffee, tea, colas, tobacco, betel nut etc.), and old discolored fillings in the teeth. During tooth formation, consumption of the antibiotic tetracycline or excessive fluoride may also cause tooth discoloration.
How is bleaching done?
Bleaching is performed by two separate methods.
1. One is the In-office bleaching and the other is a commercially available tray system.
2. With the in-office bleaching technique, a bleaching gel is applied over the teeth and a special light is used to activate the bleaching gel so as to begin the whitening process. The facility for this method is available only in the dental clinic.
3. In tray bleaching system, trays are usually provided along with the commercial teeth whitening pack. These trays are designed so as to cover the tooth surface when placed in to the mouth .The bleaching gel is carried to the tooth surface with the help of these trays. The trays are usually worn for a few hours every day for a period of 7 to 10 days. Although slower, the results achieved are usually comparable to the in-office bleaching.
4. For the maximum whitening, a combination of the two techniques is recommended.
Is the process safe?
YES. All clinical studies have shown that tooth whitening is a safe process when done under the supervision of a dentist. Reports that claim that the bleaching gel will destroy your teeth are not true. The bleaching process causes no long-term harmful effects to your teeth or gums.
How long does it take?
With in-office bleaching the results are instantaneous. With tray bleaching most people will notice a change in the color of their teeth the first night they bleach. Tray bleaching takes about 7-10 days to show complete results.
Are there any side effects?
Some people may experience a transient sensitivity to cold items during the process of bleaching. This disappears soon after the treatment is finished. However you can decrease the frequency of wearing the trays to cut down or eliminate the symptoms. Your dentist may also choose to prescribe a fluoride gel that you can wear in the trays for extreme sensitivity. It is important to note that all symptoms are temporary while you are bleaching. There are no long-term harmful effects to bleaching.
How long do the results last?
Teeth will stay bleached permanently. However depending on your habits, you may need a touch up treatment once every 6 months. If you smoke, drink tea, or coffee your teeth will stain faster therefore requiring more frequent treatment.