Teeth whitening involves the use of specially created dental bleach to lighten (whiten) the color of teeth. The color of a persons teeth will vary from person to person ranging from yellow or grey to off white. Teeth may be discolored from numerous factors including:
– Surface Stains due to lifestyle habits
– Oral Hygiene
– Certain medications
– Dental Problems such as tooth decay, trauma, erosion and more
– Excessive Fluoride
– Filling Materials in the tooth
Teeth that are discolored respond at different rates to whitening and the dentist cannot anticipate if the treatment will work or to what degree. In general teeth that have a more yellow/ orange shade respond more readily to bleach than those with a grey or green shade. Staining from certain antibiotics requires specialized bleaching treatments. Also refraining from smoking, drinking and eating foods that can stain your teeth will result in better results.
Results from whitening typically last from one to two years. Depending upon your habits such as smoking, drinking tea and coffee, wine and oral hygiene. The use of a whitening toothpaste is always recommended to prevent any stains from forming on your teeth.
It should be kept in mind that tooth whitening will not:
– Lighten old fillings. If you have any visible fillings in your front teeth, these will have to be replaced to match your new tooth color
– Affect the discoloration caused by decay or reduce dark shadows caused by metal fillings
– Change the color of stained calculus. These deposits will have to be removed before whitening treatment can commence
Professional dental whitening
There are two main methods of whitening teeth: In Surgery bleaching and take home whitening kits.
In surgery whitening is available and this typically takes up to one hour. This typically uses a high concentration of bleach that is applied to your teeth an periodically changed during the treatment. This is augmented with take home trays to further bleach your teeth at home. Results may vary considerably with this treatment and multiple sessions may be required.
Take home whitening kits are more commonly used as the patient has the control over how white they want their teeth to be. A impression is taken and custom made trays are made. These are used to apply the bleach to the teeth for up to one hour per day, usually for two to three weeks.
Internal bleaching of root filled teeth
After root canal treatment some teeth turn dark. Depending on the duration of time since the root canal has been completed, internal bleaching may be an option to whiten the tooth. A small hole is placed in the back of the tooth and bleach is applied internally and closed with a temporary filling. This will need to be repeated weekly until the tooth has whitened sufficiently.