Bleaching has been thought to be an unreliable method of obtaining a brighter smile, but the fact is that bleaching really does work. The natural occurring color of enamel is white and it is the structure under the surface that gives the outer portion its appearance. Dentin is the porous structure under the enamel and this structure tends to darken and turn into a yellow or brown color as we age. The visible color is a combination of the underlying dentin and nerve which darken over time. Patients with previous root canal treatments will likely have a darker appearance to that tooth because the dead nerve turns into a chocolate brown color which can be changed by bleaching. Hydrogen peroxide has been used since the 1800’s to lighten teeth in order to obtain the desired aesthetic.
Bleaching has been found to be a safe and effective method for achieving satisfying results. Thermal sensitivity which causes sensitivity to cold substances is a common side effect but it is not an irreversible or long term effect. The reason for this sensitivity is due to the bleach penetrating through the enamel to reach the dentin below the surface. Since the bleach travels through microscopic tubules the teeth may become sensitive but the sensitivity goes away within a few days of discontinuing the bleaching treatment and no permanent damage is done.
Bleaching will not: bleach out darkness due to decay, bleach amalgam fillings, improve the appearance of fluorosis, or reduce irregular gray lines seen in patients with tetracycline stains. Other procedures are available to improve the appearance of these teeth upon consulting your general dentist.
There are other alternatives for achieving whiter and brighter smiles that can be done by using different products. Whitening toothpastes can be purchased over-the-counter and contain a low concentration of carbamide peroxide and will brighten teeth with daily use and good brushing. Disposable bleach strips such as the Crest Whitestrips can also work well with a carbamide concentration of 7% to 14% but with professionally prescribed bleaching strips a higher percentage of 22% or 32% can be obtained providing faster results. Professionally supervised take-home custom made trays are only available through your dentist since they take a mold of your teeth to make perfect trays. The bleaching material comes in carbamide peroxide concentrations of 10%, 15%, and 35%. The bleaching process can be done at home for 30 to 60 minutes maximum. In office bleaching is the fastest method for achieving desired results. It does require an appointment at the dental office and the supervision of the doctor during the procedure. The gel used contains 35% solution of hydrogen peroxide and utilize a light or laser to intensify the results and shorten the time frame.
Any of the bleaching products will produce significant results and the only factor that will vary is the amount of time necessary to achieve your desired results. Call our 7 Day Dental Anaheim-Euclid office for more information on bleaching products.