We all want to look and feel our best. One of the simplest, least expensive and least invasive ways to do this, while improving our first impression, is to use some teeth bleaching to brighten our smiles. Most people ask for teeth whitening, which involves some form of surface cleaner that typically has an abrasive, but what they typically want is teeth bleaching. Teeth bleaching involves a chemical process, is generally not harmful, and will have minimal significant long-term side effects. Although the idea of bleaching started with treatment of non-vital teeth, it is now predominately used for treating vital teeth.
Many patients see ads on TV and magazines that show a nice bright smile. Well, chances are, you can have that nice bright smile as well, and we can help you with that!
Am I a good candidate?
Bleaching works well on most people and it can provide a good result. However, it is important to have your oral health in good shape, meaning: no cavities, the restorations that are present are well sealed, and gums are healthy.
There are some people that may not be good candidates. If your teeth are very sensitive, have lots of restorations on the anterior teeth (bleaching does not effect the aesthetics of the restorations on the teeth), or have intrinsic stains (like tetracycline stains), then alternatives need to be discussed. It is best to speak to us and we can let you know.
What are my choices and what would be best for me?
There are a number of choices, but let’s break it down to three of the most common:
i) Zoom bleaching (in office bleaching) – this is the most popular choice and tends to get the best results, as it does not require the compliance of the other choices and accomplishes results in the shortest amount of time. It usually takes about 2.5 – 3 hours in the dental chair and most people will go through 3 – 4 cycles of the application. It is activated by a certain patented light. Since nothing is permanent, if someone is receiving zoom bleaching at our office, we will also provide them with a bleaching touch up kit (custom trays for home bleaching for touch-ups) along with the office procedure. However, there are some downsides. The most significant is that of some post-op sensitivity on the teeth and gums (though very minimally). For most people, it usually goes away within a couple of weeks.
ii) Customized take-home bleaching kit – This is a very good option as well and can achieve very good results, but it does require significantly more compliance and time. The individual has to apply the product for 2-3 weeks (depending of the level of staining and discolouration). This also means that during the time of treatment, and for a couple of weeks after, the individual cannot have things that may stain their teeth. This includes a number of things that most of us enjoy. Some examples of this are: tea, tobacco, coffee, tomato paste, spicy foods, and red wine just to name a few. If someone can avoid all the foods that stain our teeth then this can be an excellent option.
iii) Over the counter products – There are a number of different products on the market. Like any product, some have efficacy and some do not. Because this group cannot have the same active ingredients as the ones that are supplied by our dental office and are not professionally monitored, they are not able to achieve the same result. This can result in a very large resultant range within this grouping. In the end, the initial cost may be less, but the on-going cost will end up being similar to the first two options.
Is bleaching safe?
There have been a number of studies regarding the safety of bleaching materials. In general, there have been minimal long and short term effects reported to affect soft and hard tissue associated with either professionally administered bleaching or take home bleaching products. The over-the-counter products are somewhat more variable and harder to evaluate, as there is limited professional reporting. Of note, there have been some studies that have reported some concerns with these over the counter bleaching products. So generally, bleaching is safe, with some exceptions.
Does it hurt to bleach my teeth?
There can be some initial sensitivity. However, for most people, it can be managed and dissipate over a couple of weeks once the treatment is completed.
What is the difference between teeth whitening and teeth bleaching?
Teeth whitening is associated with cleaning the surface of the tooth and generally involves a form of abrasive. The abrasive products are generally very fine and will produce a surface result. Teeth bleaching is a chemical application and will get deeper into the surface. The active ingredient in bleaching systems are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
Does teeth bleaching remove plaque?
In general, it does not. For best results, it is best to have your teeth professionally cleaned and then bleached.
How long do bleaching trays take to work?
That depends on the concentration of the active ingredient. As most of the studies regarding safety and efficacy have been performed on lower concentrations of professional applications, we will tend to go with lower concentrations and use them for a little longer for safety purposes.