Most people associate white teeth with a youthful, healthy appearance. There are many ways to achieve a whiter smile and the simplest is called bleaching. Bleaching of teeth can be done for the entire mouth, a smaller section of teeth, or in special circumstances for a single tooth. We bleach teeth by using variations of hydrogen peroxide which works by removing stains which have accumulated over time.
For patients who wish to have immediate results, we have an in office procedure available which uses a strong dose of medication and can be completed in 40 minutes time. This is ideal for young brides, or anyone who has a special event coming where many pictures might be taken. Because this is done in one session, most patients report a good result with little post treatment sensitivity.
For patients who prefer to have regular touch ups to maintain the whitest color over time, we can use custom made trays to bleach teeth. Using the trays, we can either perform bleaching in the office using a strong solution, followed by a weaker solution used at home, or you can simply use the weaker solution at home for a longer period of time. Having the trays made provides you the opportunity to touch up the results months later if the results begin to fade. Some patients report increased sensitivity to cold when using multiple treatments in trays. It is cost effective for people who want more treatment over time.
The simplest, most inexpensive way to bleach teeth is to buy an over the counter product in a pharmacy or grocery store. These products have the weakest concentrations of bleach and will typically only cover a few front teeth. These products may get an uneven result because the chemicals may not be applied evenly. These products work well for patients who are uncertain if bleaching will work on their teeth and who just want to see how it works.
Bleaching is simple and has very few potential side effects. The first concern is the increased sensitivity of teeth as discussed before. The other concern is that if you have teeth restored, especially with crowns (caps), veneers or large fillings and your teeth become lighter in color, the color of the teeth may no longer match the color of the restorations. Finally, bleaching works best when there is no plaque or tartar on your teeth, so a professional cleaning before the procedure is indicated.