Tooth–Whitening Process or Bleaching

Since the late 1800’s, dentists have been whitening teeth by using various forms of hydrogen peroxide. The peroxides used in the past were watery and could only be used in an office setting.

Some years ago, a new form of peroxide was developed called Carbamide peroxide. It is most often used in the form of a gel, placed into a special tray that is custom–fitted to your teeth, and worn in the mouth for anywhere from one to four hours a day. When in contact with the teeth, the carbamide peroxide releases oxygen, and that is what releases the stain on your teeth. This safe and gentle process has proven to be very effective.

Teeth tend to change shades, usually yellow, with age. This and other stains can be eliminated with the whitening processes. Whitening may not change the color of existing fillings, so whitening combined with tooth bonding is a popular choice. When the whitening is completed, new tooth–colored fillings are placed to match the whitened teeth.

Power Whitening At home, bleaching methods do work, but more slowly so you need a little patience. Some people start to see results in just a few days, but normal treatment time is anywhere from three to six weeks. Darker stains may require a longer treatment time. Each person is different and results will vary according to stain type, how deep the stains are imbedded into the tooth, and your particular tooth structure. Carbamide peroxide of 10% to 22% is used in a custom–fitted tray. The tray is worn twice a day for one hour or once a day for two to three hours, depending on the particular system being used. This system is more cost–effective than the following techniques because the bleaching is not done in the dental office. Custom–made, mouth–formed and ready–made trays are professionally designed by your dentist from a cast model of your teeth. Because they are designed to cover all back teeth and cushion the entire jaw, they can prevent concussions caused by blows to the chin. Custom guards may be slightly more expensive than commercially produced mouthpieces, but they offer the best possible fit and protection. They are more secure in the mouth and do not interfere with speech or breathing.

Ready–made, commercial mouth guards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores and are made of rubber or polyvinyl. They are the least expensive but also the least effective.