The process involves lightening the color of a tooth. It can be achieved by either changing the intrinsic color or by removing and controlling the formation of extrinsic stains. Tooth discoloration and staining are primarily due to two sources of stains; Intrinsic and extrinsic.
In essence, tooth whitening primarily targets those intrinsic stains in which cannot be removed through mechanics such as debridement (clean) or prophylaxis, in the dental office. Bleaching, otherwise commonly known as teeth whitening, is a procedure done to lighten the color of your teeth. Usually done as a cosmetic procedure, bleaching can greatly improve your look. As esthetics is of great importance, bleaching is a widely popular method to restore tooth esthetics.
WHAT IS IT USED FOR?
As you already know, bleaching is done for teeth discolorations. Discoloration of the teeth can be caused by numerous factors. For example, smoking cigarettes, tobacco chewing, coffee, tea, poor oral hygiene. These are surface discolorations and can be removed effectively. Discolorations can also be caused by internal factors like prolonged use of antibiotics like tetracycline during tooth development, higher fluoride content in water, genetic conditions like amelogenesis imperfect- where the outer coat of your teeth(enamel) does not form properly resulting in a brownish shade of your tooth, etc. Bleaching is most effective on surface discolorations.
TYPES OF BLEACHING:
There are mainly two types of bleaching methods employed. They are:
a. At home bleaching and
b. In-office bleaching
A. AT HOME BLEACHING:
At-home bleaching technique has a variety of options. It can be done using tray systems, toothpaste, gels, paints, whitening strips which can be bought over-the-counter. While at-home bleaching agents provide effective results, it contains a lesser concentration of the bleaching agents. So the shade of white you are trying to achieve will be less when compared to in-office bleaching.
Do consult your dentist before using at-home bleaching agents to follow protocol and to avoid any possible damage to your teeth.
B. IN-OFFICE BLEACHING:
In- office bleaching techniques are done by your dentist. It is far more effective than the home teeth whitening kits. The concentration of the bleaching agents used in the in-office bleaching techniques is higher, so the desired shade of your teeth can be achieved faster.
Here are some FAQ’s to help you understand the in-office bleaching technique better:
Q: How many appointments does it take to usually whiten the teeth?
A: It usually takes two-three appointments to get the desired result. Each appointment lasting a minimum of 30 minutes.
Q: How sooner can I expect to see the results?
A: Maximum effect of bleaching is attained in about 24 hours after the treatment.
Q: Is tooth-whitening permanent?
A: No, it is not permanent. Bleaching effects last for about 1-3 years in most of the cases.
Q: Are there any side effects of bleaching?
A: The only side effect to bleaching is sensitivity which is temporary. The effect usually wears off within two days after the treatment. After 2 days, the patient returns to the state of sensitivity they had, prior to the treatment.
Q: Are teeth bleaching safe?
A: yes, if done by a professional, it is completely safe. At home bleaching kits are safe to use as well, provided the instructions
are followed as directed.
Q: What can I expect during the treatment?
A: The procedure to get your teeth bleached is very easy. First, the surface of teeth is cleaned using an abrasive agent(pumice slurry) to remove any surface debris. Then the patient’s current shade will be recorded with the help of shade tabs prior to the procedure. A protective gel/sheath is applied on to the gums to prevent chemical burn. Then the bleaching gel is applied onto the surface of the teeth. The chemical in the gel is then activated with the help of a light. After satisfactory results, the final shade is recorded and compared to the initial shade recorded.
Q: What can I do to get optimum whitening results apart from the In-office bleaching procedure?
A: Optimum whitening results can be obtained by refraining from certain foods and beverages. Coffee, tea, wine, carbonated drinks(coca-cola, Pepsi, etc) are to be avoided. Smoking and use of tobacco and its products are to be avoided as well.