Tooth whitening (sometimes called “bleaching”) is a simple and non-invasive dental treatment that can change the color of your natural tooth enamel. For individuals whose teeth are stained, or that have unattractive color, tooth whitening offers a relatively simple way to enhance and beautify your smile.
Having brighter, whiter teeth has become one of the most significant aesthetic concerns of many dental patients. There are several available methods of whitening teeth. One of the most popular methods is to use a DIY tooth whitening system. When correctly used, this method will dramatically whiten teeth. There are some important variables that should be considered, though.
Because tooth whitening is only effective on natural tooth enamel, it’s important to evaluate replacement of any old fillings, crowns, or other dental modifications. Replacement of such restorations will need to be done after bleaching, so they can be properly color matched to the newly bleached teeth.
The effects of tooth whitening are not permanent. It is likely that a touch-up will be needed every few years. Such procedures are needed more often for patients who smoke, and those who drink wine, tea or coffee.
Reasons to consider tooth whitening:
- Normal wear of enamel (the outer layer of the tooth).
- Fluorosis (discoloration caused by excessive fluoridation during a tooth’s development).
- Tooth enamel stained by medications (such as tetracycline).
- Teeth with yellow or brown stains.
How is tooth whitening done?
Professional tooth whitening will usually require two office visits. During the preliminary appointment, impressions (molds) are made of the teeth. This is necessary in order for your dentist to construct custom fitted, plastic trays.
The second appointment will entail trying on the trays for proper fit. If necessary, adjustments will be made to achieve correct fit. The trays are then used with special whitening solution according to your dentist’s instruction. The most common uses involve using them either twice per day for 30 minutes, or overnight. In either case, the process will require daily application for about two weeks, depending on the severity of staining and the patient’s desired level of whitening.
You should understand that this method is likely to result in tooth sensitivity during the process of whitening your teeth, but that sensitivity will subside shortly after you have completed the bleaching regimen.
Your dentist will give you instructions for proper care of your teeth and whitening trays. An important component of tooth maintenance is to schedule regular visits to your dentist. Together, you and your dental professional will cooperate to maintain a beautiful, stain-free, healthy smile.