Teeth Whitening is the process of bleaching your teeth in order to make them appear whiter. This purely cosmetic procedure can be done at home or by a dentist, to enhance ones smile. There are many over-the-counter whitening products which have become very popular lately. Their popularity lies in the fact that they are inexpensive compared to a professional bleaching done in a dental office.Who doesn't want a whiter looking smile? Many factors cause teeth to look dingy or discolored. Smoking with by-products of tar and nicotine, leaves unsightly brown stains. Beverages such as tea and coffee will have the same effect over time. Teeth can naturally be a darker shade than desired due to heredity. Wearing braces or other dental apparatuses for extended periods of time will discolor enamel. Individuals have the option of using whitening toothpastes, at-home bleaching methods or in-office bleaching methods.
Toothpastes remove stains from the surface of enamel by means of a mild abrasive; they do not change the color of the enamel. The toothpastes contain a chemical that provides additional stain removal. Peroxide is one of the usual substances used. In over-the-counter formulas, peroxide is generally found at most to have a strength of 10%.
Another option is the at-home method using bleaching gels and trays or mouth guards. A foam type tray is filled with the peroxide gel, placed over the upper or lower teeth, and worn for a specific amount of time; generally overnight or twice a day, for 1-2 weeks. This method also only removes stains. Enamel color is not changed. Occasionally soft gum tissue becomes irritated. These results are from using too much gel or from an improperly fitting tray. A custom fitted tray, obtained from a dental practitioner, will lessen this adverse effect.
In-office bleaching involves a similar method - the peroxide gel a dentist uses has a much stronger concentration of peroxide. This gel contains 16% or more of peroxide. This specially formulated gel actually bleaches the enamel from the inside out. A protective gel is first applied to gum tissue to protect against irritation. Then the bleaching agent is applied to the teeth. A special light is used to enhance the chemicals in the bleaching formula. The process takes 30 minutes to 1 hour. More than one visit may be needed to whiten lower and upper teeth. Dentists advise that in certain instances enamel color may not significantly change, if teeth are extremely darkened.
A side effect of whitening is the teeth's sensitivity to air and exposure to extreme temperature changes, such as eating hot or cold foods. During the whitening process, enamel pores open, allowing these changes to penetrate and cause discomfort. Saliva contains minerals that aid in the healing process of closing pores by filling them, but this can be a timely process.
Our FAQ tries to answer common questions regarding tooth bleaching procedures. TeethWhiteningFAQ.org is a work in progress and if you have any questions please send them to us at: