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FAQs on Bleaching
What is the material used in the whitening process?
The most popular and extensively researched material is a 10% carbamide peroxide, which is a mild form of 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Is it harmful to my teeth?
No, not if the proper material is used after a proper diagnosis by a health professional who will devise a treatment plan. The effect on the teeth seems to be no different from commonly–ingested foods or regular dental procedures.
What is the whitening process doing to my teeth?
The carbamide peroxide soaks into the tooth’s dentin and enamel. It removes stains that have also soaked into the tooth, as well as changes the color of the inside of the tooth by an oxidation process.
How white will my teeth get?
This depends on the nature of the staining and length of treatment. You may see up to 13 shades of color change. Some people lighten 7 shades in 7 days.
Are there any reasons I should not whiten my teeth?
Yes. Restorations (fillings such as tooth–colored composites and crowns) do not change color. If you have many fillings on our teeth that show when you smile, they may become more noticeable (look darker) after the teeth get lighter. Your dentist will examine you and advise you as to whether the improvement from whitening is worth the cost and risk of replacement of those restorations.
Are there any side effects or precautions?
Yes, some people may have episodes of tooth sensitivity during treatment. These are generally mild, and will stop when treatment is completed. However, your dental office will work with you to determine the best wearing time to minimize sensitivity. There are also medications available that can be used to reduce sensitivity which can be applied using the same carrier. People who have a history of sensitive teeth can use a desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate and fluoride during treatment. Occasionally, gingival (gum) irritation can occur from wearing the tray and is relieved by removing tissue contact from the tray.
Don’t whitening toothpastes do the same thing as the professional dental whitening technique?
No. Toothpaste is primarily intended for stains on the outside of the tooth. The dramatic change in tooth color inside the tooth has not been duplicated by whitening toothpastes. Some of the toothpastes that contain peroxide may be used to help maintain white teeth after they have been whitened by the dental whitening technique. Your dentist will work with you to find the best fluoride–containing toothpaste and proper toothbrush habits to maintain your whiter teeth.
How can I lighten the color of my teeth?
There are a variety of methods that can be used to lighten teeth. Probably the most cost–effective, safest technique available is professional, dentist–dispensed whitening. Your dentist will devise a special carrier (also called a night–guard or tray) to fit your mouth. Then, you insert the whitening agent into the custom carrier, and wear it over your teeth all night, or for several hours.
How long does it take for my teeth to become white?
That depends on the type of discoloration of your teeth. It may take only 3 to 5 days to lighten your teeth, or it may take several weeks or months. The average treatment time for moderately stained teeth is 2 to 6 weeks. Teeth stained by nicotine or by drugs such as tetracycline may require 2 to 6 months, depending on the nature of the staining.
How long does the whitening last?
Although some stain removal may be permanent, the average duration of the color change is from 1 to 3 years before any darkening is noticed. After that time, there is some color lapse, but not back to the original stained color. Recovering the whitened color generally takes only a few days of re–treatment. Some teeth have remained color stable for more than 7 years.