Tooth whitening* is achieved by application of a bleaching agent onto the surface(s) of the tooth / teeth to be whitened. Today's bleaching agents are far more effective and safer than previous agents. In general, tooth whitening can be divided into vital (whitening of vital teeth) or non-vital (whitening of discoloured non-vital and usually root treated teeth) bleaching.
The in office "power" bleaching is one of the quickest and most effective ways to whiten teeth but requires a session at the dentist's office.
The dentist isolates and protects your lips, gums, and inside lining of your mouth. Next, a powerful bleaching agent is applied to the teeth. Finally, a powerful light source is applied to activate the bleaching agent and completes the procedure
Cost of the procedure depends on the duration of the session and is directly related to the number of teeth to be treated. To enhance the effect of whitening, this procedure can be repeated (if desired) or used in combination with a take home system.
These systems are becoming increasingly popular. With these systems the dentist takes impressions and makes a mould of your teeth. This mould is then used to create customised trays which fits onto your teeth.
The trays are test fitted and full instruction are given to the patient on issue of the bleaching system. The patient takes the trays and bleaching agent home. Each night for three to four weeks the patient places the required amount of bleaching agent on the trays and places the trays in his or her mouth. Follow up visits are scheduled to ensures that you are doing the home treatments correctly and allows the dentist to inspect your gums for irritation and to assess and treat tooth sensitivity should this develops. (Gum irritation and tooth sensitivity are the most common side effects of vital tooth bleaching.)
The advantage of this system is that the treatment trays are custom made to fit each individual's mouth. This means that the appropriate amount of bleaching agent will be used in each treatment session and the bleaching agent is less likely to be swallowed or less likely to seep onto and irritate gum tissue.
For extremely discouloured teeth, an in-office power bleaching system can be used in conjunction with the dentist supervised home bleaching suystem to produce the best results
Over-the-counter bleaching systems are take-home kits which you can buy at the local stores, supermarkets or pharmacies. Usually they are relatively inexpensive.
These kits work in a similar fashion to the dentist supervised take home kits. A bleaching agent is applied to a standard mouth tray supplied with the kit and the tray is inserted into the mouth for a period of time specified by the kit. Treatment usually lasts between 2-4 weeks.
I personally do not recommend these kits for two reasons::
Firstly, these kits contain a standard mouth tray for applying bleach onto your teeth. As the trays are standard (made to fit everyone), they do not to fit properly. Consequently, an excessive amount of the bleaching agent has to be used and you may be undesirably ingesting an excessive amount of bleaching material. In addition, there is increased chance of tooth sensitivity and gum irritation because of the excess material used.
Secondly, without professional supervision, you cannot be sure if the bleaching process is proceeding safely and that you are not damaging your teeth and other oral tissues.
Non-vital bleaching refers to whitening of a root treated tooth and may require more than one session of treatment. The procedure involves isolation of the tooth to be treated and the bleaching agent is applied to the inside (access cavity for the root treatment) of the tooth and then temporarily saled. This procedure is repeated until the desired whitness* is obtained and a final restoration is placed
* NB. Depends on individual situations, there is limitation as to the degree of whiteness that can be obtained by bleaching.
Disclaimer. All material supplied here are for general information only. Please consult your dentist for more detailed explanation regarding your specific conditions before making any decisions.