Having a whiter teeth may be easier than you think. Tooth whitening is the most non-invasive means of influencing tooth color.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a procedure performed for the purpose of lightening teeth color. It utilizes a solution of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide that penetrates tooth enamel and dentin, oxidizing internal pigmentation. Whitening can be done at home with trays made by the dentist, or in the dental office. The main side effect of tooth whitening is temporary tooth sensitivity.
At Home or in the Dental Office?
According to one recent systematic review of 12 randomized control trials comparing the effectiveness of at-home and in-office tooth whitening (de Geus, 2016), no differences between these two methods were detected in either effectiveness, or in the incidence of tooth sensitivity. Another review of 8 studies (Luque-Martinez, 2016) found that at-home tray whitening resulted in slightly better color change, and no difference in tooth sensitivity. In our office, we prefer at-home tray whitening, because the the contact time of the solution with the teeth is greater, and the patient has more control over the process.
Key Benefits of Teeth Whitening:
- Corrects brown, yellow, and mottled teeth stains.
- Helpful even when follow-up procedures are planned.
How is at-home teeth whitening done?
An impression is taken to make a specialized mouth guard or tray to hold the whitening solution against the teeth. The material is used either overnight, or for an hour in the evening, for one to two weeks. Yellow stains respond more quickly than gray stains, and results may differ from person to person, depending upon variations in tooth structure and composition. Whitening may be used before making porcelain veneers, allowing the veneers to do less “work” in masking the underlying tooth color.
Considerations for Teeth Whitening
Over-the-counter bleaching agents are available for purchase at drug stores and pharmacies. However, the data supporting over-the-counter products is still lacking.