While everybody loves a bright white smile, choosing from the variety of products and procedures available to help improve the look of your teeth can be a difficult task. Several approaches to whiten teeth exist: in-office bleaching, at-home bleaching, tooth whitening toothpastes, and teeth whitening laser treatments are among the most common.
Tooth bleaching is a technique to lighten the shade of your teeth. The active ingredient in most dental bleaching systems is CARBAMIDE PEROXIDE which is made into a clear gel that is designed to stay on the teeth and be absorbed quickly. The carbamide peroxide converts to OXYGEN and removes the stains from the teeth.
Dental bleaching can be a very effective option for reducing or eliminating stains on natural teeth or for the selective lightening of a particular tooth or all of the teeth. Unfortunately, bleaching cannot give predicable results for blue-gray stains caused by tetracycline or for mottled teeth affected by fluorosis. These stains tend to be intrinsic (embedded within the chemical make-up of the enamel) and are, therefore, much more difficult to eliminate. Teeth bleaching will not alter the shade of dental restorations such as porcelain or composite veneers.
In-office teeth bleaching is done by a DENTIST while under his/her care. A bleaching agent is applied to the teeth and a special light is used to improve the effectiveness of the whitening agent.
At-home teeth whitening products include bleaching solutions, whitening toothpastes, and a variety of other over-the-counter products.
Used as directed, 10-15 percent carbamide peroxide has not been shown to produce any weakening or long-term surface changes in enamel. Young people should avoid bleaching with high concentrations of peroxide (greater than 30 percent) due to a risk of possible tooth nerve damage. High concentrations with high intensity light (plasma or laser) can cause permanent tooth nerve damage in adults as well. Home teeth bleaching materials do not cause irreversible tissue changes. However, in high concentrations, there may be some gum sensitivity that can last a day or two. In general, the higher the concentration and the longer the exposure, the greater the gum sensitivity. Lastly, bleaching is associated with an increase in temperature sensitivity (hypersensitivity) in about 25-30 percent of users. This hypersensitivity is temporary and usually lasts for a few days.