Teeth whitening is a very common procedure in dentistry today. It is used to lighten tooth color which has become darker due to many reasons (change in the mineral structure of the tooth, pigmentation from bacteria, foods, tobacco, medications, etc).
Teeth whitening restores natural tooth color and bleaching whitens beyond the natural color. There are many methods to whiten teeth: in-office bleaching, which is applied or supervised by a dentist; at-home bleaching, which is to be used at home by the patient using custom fitted whitening trays fabricated by a dentist or dental professional; over-the-counter whitening products intended for home use include gels, chewing gums, rinses, toothpaste, etc.
It is recommended to have teeth checked by a teeth whitening dentist before undergoing any whitening method. The patient should be examined thoroughly: health and dental history, including allergies and sensitivities should be recorded; teeth and gums health, as well as conditions of existing fillings should be noted. X-rays may be needed to determine depth of possible decays. Bleaching is not recommended if teeth have decay or infected gums.
A typical course of bleaching can produce dramatic improvements in the cosmetic appearance of most teeth; however, some stains such as Tetracycline stains respond poorly to bleaching and may require prolonged treatment, as it takes longer for the bleach to reach the dentin layer. White-spot decalcifications may also be highlighted and become more noticeable directly following a whiting process, but usually become less noticeable, with the other parts of the teeth becoming more white with further applications.
It is to be noted that bleaching does not work on bonding or tooth-color filling or porcelain dental work. Treatment times and recommendations are dependent on the condition of a person’s teeth at time of treatment. Talk to your dental care professional to see if you are a candidate for teeth whitening or bleaching.