Teeth Whitening: A Quick Fix for a Super Smile

Posted on: September 11, 2014

QUESTION – What is the teeth whitening process?ANSWERTeeth Whitening is actually a bleaching process that lightens discolorations of tooth enamel. Dental bleaching systems use an effective whitening solution retained in a custom-fitted mouthpiece that is worn over your teeth for 1-4 hours per day, or even overnight. Many people notice an immediate whitening of their teeth in just a few hours of bleaching time, but it usually takes between 20 – 40 hours of cumulative bleaching time to complete the whitening process (this is true for all at-home dental bleaching systems, no matter who the manufacturer is). You can break your hours into just a few days (for people who are in a hurry) or a few months (for people who are not). Professional strength whitening gel formulated with 10% carbamide peroxide is the most widely used and most desirable active ingredient in effective dental bleaches.QUESTION – How do Teeth Whitening Systems remove stains?ANSWERTeeth Whitening Systems will remove most stains with a gentle action that whitens your teeth. As the active ingredient in the gel (carbamide peroxide), is broken down, oxygen acts upon the stained organic deposits, which oxidizes them into a white color. This process makes the overall tooth color closer to its natural unstained color. Your tooth structure remains unchanged. Years of clinical tests have demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of this system. Over 95% of people treated achieve some level of tooth whitening. Crowns, bridges, bondings, and fillings do not lighten with dental bleaching systems.QUESTION – What is the treatment procedure?ANSWER – An impression of your teeth will be made by a dental professional. You will then apply one of various types of whitening gel inside the mouthpiece and place the mouthpiece over your teeth. You may wear the mouthpieces from 30 minutes to 4 hours per day. Most people see quick results after only a few hours of bleaching time.QUESTION – Is the whitening process permanent?ANSWER – For most people, the treatment will last for many years. Your teeth have become stained in the first place from consuming certain foods and beverages. Upon the completion of your initial bleaching process, your teeth are restored to their natural white color. Exposure to foods, drinks (especially coffee, colas and red wines), smoking and other consumables will gradually darken teeth again over time. You may want to periodically bleach your teeth. After an initial treatment, most people do touchups about once every 6-12 months.QUESTION – How important are moldable mouthpieces?ANSWER – Very Important. Having a moldable mouthpiece is essential to assure proper bleaching results. Non-moldable mouthpieces or “Strips” may cause inconsistent bleaching or spotting on the teeth and they are uncomfortable to wear.QUESTION – I already have a set of mouthpieces. Can I buy just the whitening gel?ANSWER – Yes, most dental professionals carry “update kits” of 10% Carbamide Peroxide whitening gel separately. This refill gel is the same strength that is sold in complete kits. It can be used with any dental tray in the same way as your previous whitening gel.QUESTION – What causes tooth discoloration?ANSWER – There are many causes. The most common include consumption of foods, coffee, tea, wine, sodas and smoking. In other words, our teeth naturally get more and more stained as time goes on and we continue to live our lives.QUESTION – Who may benefit from tooth whitening?ANSWER – Almost everyone. However, there are some cases where treatment may not be effective. Tooth lightening is ideal for patients who have healthy, unrestored teeth and would like a whiter, brighter smile. NOTE: Tetracycline discolorations can be unpredictable and are usually not greatly responsive to dental bleaching, although the clinical photos at left are of a tetracycline stained patient treated by Dr. Vanek.Clinical photos — Copyright ã Dr-V.org, 2003, All Rights Reserved