Bleaching is a procedure to alter the intrinsic shade of your teeth to make them whiter and brighter. If brushing and flossing alone haven’t produced the results you’re looking for, tooth whitening may be an option for you. You should discuss the many dentist prescribed as well as over the counter options with Dr. McCue.
What to Expect
Bleaching goes beyond just removing surface stains. A gel solution of either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide is placed into a custom made carrier. This holds the gel against the teeth for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight (depending on the concentration) to remove stain as well as alter the color within the tooth itself. This will be used from ten days to three weeks depending on the level of whitening desired. Over the counter “white strips” are a great way to get your teeth whiter if you’re looking for a small change. They use a lower percentage of peroxide and more of a “one size fits all” approach, which limits their effectiveness. When more effective whitening is needed, dentists are authorized to use higher concentration formulas because we make precision fit trays to use with the gel. This limits wasted material but also helps protect your gums from the effects of bleaching. Bleaching causes temporary tooth sensitivity in some patients, so desensitizing gels can be used in the trays as well.
The “whitening” part of whitening toothpaste is typically a stronger abrasive to scrub your teeth and remove surface stains. Some contain special chemicals that help to remove stains as well, but none are able to work on the inner shade of the tooth. We have found that people with sensitive teeth typically have increased sensitivity when using toothpastes with stronger abrasives, so they are not recommended.