|What should you ask the dentist?|
You may want to start by speaking with the dentist. He or she can tell you
whether whitening procedures would be effective for you. Whiteners may not
correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow-ish hued teeth will
probably bleach well, brownish-colored teeth may bleach less well, and
grayish-hued teeth may not bleach well at all. Likewise, bleaching may not
enhance your smile if you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in
your front teeth. The whitener will not affect the color of these materials,
and they will stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you may
want to investigate other options, like porcelain veneers or dental bonding.
What is in-office bleaching?
If you are a candidate for bleaching, the dentist
may suggest a procedure that can be done in the office. This procedure is
called chair-side bleaching and may require more than one office visit. Each
visit may take from 30 minutes to one hour.
During chair-side bleaching, the dentist will
apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect the
oral soft tissues. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and a
special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent. Lasers have been
used during tooth whitening procedures to enhance the action of the whitening
What are at-home procedures and products?
There are several types of products available for
use at home, which can either be dispensed by the dentist or purchased
Bleaching solutions. These products
contain peroxide(s), which actually bleach the tooth enamel. These products
typically rely on percent carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent;
carbamide peroxide comes in several different concentrations (10%, 16%, 22%).
Peroxide-containing whiteners typically
come in a gel and are placed in a mouthguard. Usage regimens vary.
Some products are used for about twice a day for 2 weeks, and others are
intended for overnight use for 1-2 weeks. If you obtain the bleaching
solution from your dentist, he or she can make a custom-fitted
mouthguard for you that will fit your teeth precisely. Currently, only
dentist-dispensed home-use 10% carbamide peroxide tray-applied gels
carry the ADA Seal.
You also may want to speak with the
dentist should any side effects become bothersome. For example, teeth
can become sensitive during the period when you are using the bleaching
solution. In many cases, this sensitivity is temporary and should
lessen once the treatment is finished. Some people also experience soft
tissue irritation – either from a tray that doesn’t fit properly or from
solution that may come in contact with the tissues. If you have
concerns about such side effects, you should discuss them with the
Toothpastes. All toothpastes help
remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. “Whitening”
toothpastes in the ADA Seal of Acceptance program have special chemical or
polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness.
Unlike bleaches, these ADA Accepted products do not alter the intrinsic
color of teeth.