Professional Teeth Whitening
Professional teeth whitening is a treatment to get your teeth to return back to their natural color. It will not make a complete change of color but will rather lighten the current shade. Teeth can be stained on the surface via food and drinks, for example coffee, tea or red wine. Smoking can make teeth appear yellowed. As you grow older teeth can become darker naturally. Tartar or tooth decay can change the color of teeth, and staining can occur below the surface, this may be caused by micro fractures in the teeth or antibiotics. Some staining can also occur because of medicine or disease. Note that caps, crowns, veneers, fillings, or dentures will not be helped by professional teeth whitening, as it is only effective on natural teeth.
When considering whether to get your teeth whitened it is important to think of the end goal, having a more attractive looking smile, if your teeth are significantly crooked or damaged it may be more impact to first consider getting this remedied before going on to whiten teeth, or indeed to do it in conjunction.
Once the teeth have been whitened the effect can last for up to 3 years. This will vary depending on the person and their behavior, if any substances, as mentioned above, which are taken will speed up the darkening process. To lengthen the effect it may be advisable to use a whitening toothpaste, also cutting down on sugary snacks and drinks.
There may be some side effects to teeth whitening, it is possible that teeth become more sensitive to cold after the treatment, also gums may become uncomfortable, with white patches on the gum line or with a sore throat occurring. These effects will normally disappear a few days after treatment, if they do not then you should contact your dentist.
Note that teeth whitening will not work on any sort of false teeth, for example, dentures, veneers or crowns.
Professional bleaching a common form of teeth whitening, The active ingredient is either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. They work by breaking down and allowing oxygen access into the enamel, this makes the tooth color more light. The treatment must be done in stages and generally takes 3 to 4 weeks to complete. First a mouth guard is made, for this impressions of your teeth need to be made, once the treatment has been started, the rest of the treatment can be done at home. Generally this will mean putting the whitening product for 30-60 minutes per treatment. There are also treatments which are available where the product could be applied for up to 8 hours, meaning that results could be seen within one week.
Professional internal bleaching
This is a process where the bleaching product is placed within the tooth. This is only done on teeth which have been root treated, where the blood vessels and nerves have been replaced. The treatment involves drilling a hole into each tooth, putting the product in, and then sealing it. The procedure should be pain free due to the lack of nerves within the teeth. Generally a week later the filling and bleach are removed then the teeth are filled with colored filling. This technique may be combined with others to give the required shade.
Bleaching home kits
These will be the cheapest option, however these kits usually contain a very small concentration of the whitening product. Generally bleaching products need to have about 3.6% concentration to have a significant effect. Some kits contain mild acids or abrasives which may cause ulcers and gum damage if the product is not applied correctly. Usually kits will contain rubber mouth trays, which fit around your teeth, and bleaching gel in tubes. The gel is squeezed into the tray, and placed over the teeth for at least 30 minutes.
Laser whitening (also known as power whitening) is where a rubber dam is put over the teeth protecting the gums, then a bleaching agent is painted onto the teeth. Once this is done a laser is beamed on to the teeth activating the bleaching agent. The laser enhances the whitening process. This type of whitening can make the teeth up to 5 or 6 times lighter. Generally laser whitening tends to be more expensive than professional bleaching.
Using whitening tooth paste will not change the natural color of teeth as the other treatments do, however they may remove staining, and can make the teeth look better in to certain degree.
For a longer lasting solution it may be worth while to look into teeth veneers, although this is the most costly solution it will give you the best results and last the longest, with this treatment the teeth are actually covered by a material such as porcelain which is then bonded to your teeth.