Everybody wants a beautiful, bright smile – it helps give you confidence and adds to your overall appearance. Many people hesitate to smile because their teeth are stained or discolored. This section provides information about the types of bleaching products available that whiten teeth by a chemical process as well as the options available to best naturally whiten your teeth by removing stains.
What are the causes of tooth staining and discoloration?
Tooth staining maybe caused by eating certain foods and drinks and using tobacco. These stains are on the surface of the teeth.
Teeth can also darken as a result of injury, or from the natural aging process. And, while it is less common, some prescription medications, if taken when the teeth are forming, have been shown to cause staining of the tooth structure itself.
How does bleaching (or whitening) work?
Bleaching is a process of whitening teeth by applying a chemical solution directly to the teeth. The enamel on the exposed crown of the tooth is bleached. In addition, removing stain from the tooth surface can restore the teeth to their natural whiteness.
What should I avoid to keep my teeth as naturally white as possible?
Stains on the surface of the teeth will reduce the natural whiteness. Regularly indulging in the following will increase the risk of staining on your teeth:
- Coffee and Tea
- Red Wine
- Fruit Juices
- Cola drinks
What are the different ways to bleach my teeth?
There are many options available today for bleaching your teeth. Here are two options that are administered by your dentist.
- The dentist applies a bleaching solution directly to the stained teeth. The applied solution is activated by heat (alternatively, this process can be activated by a combination of heat and light). After the solution is rinsed off, whiter teeth are revealed. This process can take about an hour, and six to eight teeth can be bleached during one appointment.
- The dentist custom-makes a bleaching tray to fit top and bottom teeth. Under his or her guidance, you are provided with a bleaching solution to use at home with the trays. They need to be worn for about two hours per day (they can be worn at night) and this process takes a variable amount of time depending on the product – ranging from one to six weeks.
There are also home bleaching kits available for purchase at retail stores. Some of them are used in a similar way to the second option above. These are less expensive because the bleaching tray is a standard size, not custom-made to fit your teeth precisely. Other forms of home bleaching are available. Always ask your dentist for advice before undertaking any home care treatments.
Is bleaching suitable for everyone?
Start by speaking to your dentist. He or she can tell you whether bleaching procedures would be effective for you. However, it is possible to bleach teeth that have undergone root canal treatment or other restorations.
Are there any side effects to bleaching?
The bleaching solutions contain peroxides which bleach the tooth enamel. In some cases, this has been shown to cause sensitivity or other reactions. If you do choose an at-home bleaching product, be sure to keep your dentist informed of what you are doing and contact him or her immediately if you suffer any adverse symptoms.
What other whitening products are available?
Other whitening products include bleaching strips and solutions that are painted on the teeth. In addition, toothpastes and toothbrushes work by removing the stains on the tooth surface, restoring your teeth to their natural whiteness.
Whitening toothpastes contain a mild abrasive to help lift stain from the teeth. And some have polishing agents that provide further stain removal. Check with your dentist before using a whitening toothpaste to ensure that it is the right product for you.
Provided as an educational service by Oral B Laboratories.