Bleaching refers to the achievement of a whiter tooth color using powerful oxidizing agents like Hydrogen Peroxide. Tooth discoloration takes place slowly. Many times, tooth discoloration is caused by tobacco stains or prolonged intake of colored beverages like soda, tea, coffee, etc. Also, root canal treatments can cause discoloration of previously treated teeth. In such cases, bleaching is recommended.

There are different types of bleaching techniques:

At-home bleaching kit

The patient is instructed to apply the bleaching material by himself. Bleaching gel is placed in this tray, and, when it is given a period of time to soak into the dentition, it makes the teeth whiter. The gel is kept on the teeth for a few hours, a day, for a week or more. The results of this treatment are visible, and the longer the tray with the gel is applied, the whiter your teeth will turn. Though this technique requires training beyond what may be taught in some dental schools, it isn’t difficult for a general dentist to obtain the training necessary to perform it well nor does it require artistic talent. So, while dental practitioners suggest an expert cosmetic dentist for procedures such as smile makeovers and aesthetic treatments, you can probably have your family dentist do teeth bleaching and get beautiful results. For specific situations, however, it is best for a patient to see an expert cosmetic dentist, who will have adequate training.

In-office bleaching

Some research and dentists claim that professional teeth whitening produces better results than dental whitening strips and other smile-enhancing products you can use it at home. Still, there have been a couple of studies comparing in-office teeth whitening with other treatments. The typical office bleaching treatment would take around 20-60 minutes.

Other bleaching systems work with customized or individual bleaching trays. The customized tray option is more suitable due to lower costs for straight teeth, whereas the particular tray type is useful for patients with crooked teeth or cases where a bleaching effect should be achieved only for selected teeth, not the entire dentition.

The difference between these techniques is also the amount of bleaching agent (ranging from 6 – 40 percent) in the applied solution. Typically, take home bleaching techniques (“Ultradent To Go”) contain a lower amount of active agent to minimize the risks.

Tooth whitening should be done only under the supervision of a dentist, especially if the percentage of active bleaching agent exceeds one percent – as it can cause irritation of the gums. Although bleaching is an excellent way to achieve brighter teeth, it will cause some side effects like sensitivity. Temporary sensitiveness may occur which is related to the temporary reduction of water inside the tooth.

Most people don’t know that bleaching agents often contain fluoride and therefore provide tooth protection. If it is performed under supervision of a qualified dental practitioner, tooth bleaching is not harmful as the applied gel is pH neutral, therefore not acidic.

After whitening, the diet has to be monitored carefully. Firm fruits and vegetables such as beans, cauliflower, carrots, and celery help to scrub teeth as you chew. They assist in promoting saliva flow, which in turn, neutralizes acids and protects teeth. Dairy products, especially those high in calcium, help keep your pearly whites, white.