Your Options for Dental Bleaching

Teeth whitening or bleaching is currently the most popular cosmetic dental procedure. By lightening the dentition, our sparkling smile makes us appear more confident and gives us higher esteem.  It also gives us a more youthful glow.

Staining or discoloration of teeth comes with age due to the tooth’s change in mineral structure as well as exposure to:

o     Tobacco

o     Highly pigmented food and beverages

o     Bacterial pigments

o     Antibiotics

o     Drugs

o     Illness

There are several bleaching options to teeth whitening:

o     Strips

o     Pen

o     Gel

o     Toothpaste

o     Laser Therapy

At Home Kits

At home kits typically use either strips that fold over the front teeth or gel applied to the teeth using guard trays. Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide are the two most commonly used oxidizing agents.  These infiltrate the pores of the enamel, oxidizing the interprismatic stain sediment. As time goes on, the bleaching progresses to the dentin layer underneath the enamel as well.

The bleaching effect can be hastened in a professional dental office by supplementing light energy to the bleaching process. Benefit duration depends on usage of tobacco or intake of highly pigmented foods and beverages.

Intrinsic Staining

Teeth can be discolored internally and at-home-whitening kits would not work.  There are however two easy solutions to mask the discoloration:

o     Bonding

A thin layer of composite is applied to the front surface of the tooth and then bonded or adhered using a blue light

o     Veneers

A thin restorative layer is placed over the front of the tooth with an adhesive to mask the staining

There are many options available today with bleaching options include applications done with at-home kits, dental offices and spas.

Bleaching with Power Lights

Using a power light (of plasma arc, halogen or LED) is a new technology used in a dentist’s office to hasten the bleaching process. A high energy is focused on the teeth, stimulating the peroxide molecules and accelerating the whitening.  It is done in a single, painless session of between 30-60 minutes thereby decreasing the exposure time to hydrogen peroxide that the patient would ordinarily have.

Risks and Adverse Reactions of Bleaching

o     Pain from sensitive teeth caused by exposed dentinal tubules

o     Increased sensitivity to extreme temperatures (hot/cold)

o     Overbleaching (which changes the color of the teeth)

o     Chemical burns if the oxidizing agent in the gel used is too highly concentrated

o     UV lights can cause harm to eyes and skin

o     Increased risk of tongue cancer

o     Allergic reactions

Although bleaching can be beneficial enjoyed by the patient, the risks and side effects highlight the need for individuals to get an examination and consultation from a professional dentist before undertaking or considering any procedure.

Any dental cavities or gingivitis must be addressed and corrected.  A thorough evaluation will also determine whether a person is a candidate for a bleaching technique. X-rays may be needed to determine the depth and extent of any problem along with the depth needed for teeth whitening.

If all the above has been taken into consideration, and this is something that appeals to you, by all means- Go for it!

It can be life changing.