Dental bleaching, also known as tooth whitening, is a common procedure in general dentistry but most especially in the field of cosmetic dentistry. A child's deciduous teeth are generally whiter than the adult teeth that follow. As a person ages the adult teeth often become darker due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth, as the enamel becomes less porous. Teeth can also become stained by bacterial pigments, foodstuffs and tobacco. Certain antibiotic medications (like tetracycline) can also cause teeth stains or a reduction in the brilliance of the enamel.
There are many methods to whiten teeth, such as brushing, bleaching gel, laser bleaching, and natural bleaching.
Discolouration and yellowing of teeth can occur because of the natural aging process, consumption of staining substances (coffee, tea, colas, tobacco), trauma, nerve degeneration, and old restorations. During tooth formation, certain antibiotics may also cause tooth discolouration.
This process can be reversed with a special gel whose active ingredient is carbamide peroxide. The gel is placed into a professionally custom-made soft tray that fits your teeth. As the gel is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin and bleaches the coloured substances. The gel filled trays are worn for 1/2 hour each day or twice daily for 10 to 14 days.
Total Treatment Time:
10 days to 2 weeks
Power or light-accelerated bleaching, also referred to as laser bleaching, uses light energy to accelerate the process of bleaching. Different types of energy can be used in this procedure, with the most common being halogen, LED, or plasma arc. The ideal source of energy should be high energy to excite the peroxide molecules without overheating the pulp of the tooth.
Lights are typically within the blue light spectrum as this has been found to contain the most effective wavelengths for initiating the hydrogen peroxide reaction. A power bleaching treatment typically involves isolation of soft tissue with a resin-based, light-curable barrier, application of a professional dental-grade hydrogen peroxide whitening gel (25-38% hydrogen peroxide), and exposure to the light source for 6–15 minutes. Recent technical advances have minimized heat and ultraviolet emissions, allowing a less time-intensive patient preparation procedure. Most power teeth whitening treatments can be done in approximately 30 minutes to one hour, in a single visit to a dental physician.