What is tooth bleaching?
Tooth bleaching is bleaching of tooth’s colour using chemical compounds which oxidise pigments on the tooth (not to be confused with whitening tooth paste or chewing gum, which only removes the surface pigments, but do not whiten the tooth itself; at best, they restore the original shade of the tooth, i. e. what it was right after eruption).
How are teeth bleached? What does the process involve?
The two most commonly used methods of bleaching are:
- At-home tooth bleaching. The dentist takes impressions of your teeth to have a technician make bleaching mouthguards. They are similar to mouthguards worn by athletes, only smaller; they have spaces along the teeth for the bleaching material. Your dentist will provide syringes of bleaching material. Depending on the concentration of bleaching material and effect wanted, mouthguards are worn for 3 weeks 2-10 hours a day. The process can be repeated after 6 months;
- In-office tooth bleaching. Before the procedure, the dentist polishes teeth with a brush or uses sandblasting (air flow). The gums are protected by a protective gel. Bleaching agent is applied on the teeth and activated using light; the bleaching agent is then rinsed off and the process repeated several times. In order to reduce tooth sensitivity, fluoride varnish is applied. The whole procedure takes about an hour. After the drink, coloured food and drinks should be avoided, also smoking, drinking milk and sour drinks. One or several such procedures are equivalent to bleaching at-home for several days or weeks because of high concentration light-activated bleaching agent used.
How efficient is tooth bleaching?
- Yellowish teeth are the most susceptible to bleaching, compared to bluish or reddish teeth. “Tetracycline” are rarely bleached effectively. Fillings and crowns are not affected by bleaching;
- The effect usually lasts for 1-3 years, in some cases it can be long-lasting;
- The teeth lighten by 5-6 shades at most, sometimes only by 1 shade.
Friend of your teeth, Amicus Dentis