Tooth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These bleaches break stains into smaller pieces, which make the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter.
Tooth whitening does not work on all teeth, which is why it is important to talk your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth. For example, yellow teeth tend to bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well, and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. In addition, whitening will not work on dental restorative materials such as crowns, veneers or fillings. Tooth whitening may not be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.
Our office can provide custom-made trays for at-home whitening. These trays are fabricated from models of your teeth so that they are a comfortable fit. We have a variety of professional strength whitening gels you can choose from. To help you best achieve your desired results, we will give you instructions on how to place the bleaching solution in the tray and for what length of time.
You may see different options online or in your local grocery store, such as strips that whiten by bleaching your teeth. The concentration of the bleaching agent in these products is lower than professional strength bleaching gels our office provides. If you are thinking about using an over-the-counter bleaching kit, look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. That means it has been tested to be safe and effective for tooth whitening.
Some people who use tooth whiteners may experience tooth sensitivity. This happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin and irritates the nerve of your tooth. In most cases the sensitivity is temporary. You may choose to delay treatment and then try again.
An overuse of whiteners can damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.