Bleaching (Lightening of individual tooth colour)

Improving your smile is no longer the domain of the rich and famous.

Teeth enamel discoloration can be caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Some of the more common causes of teeth discoloration are medications, coffee, tea or cigarettes. People who drink significant amounts of cola soft drinks can experience similar staining. 
Aside from staining, there are other factors that can affect the color of an individual's teeth. Genetics can play a role. Some people have naturally brighter enamel than others. Disease can also be a factor and certain medications can cause a discoloration of the teeth. If you suspect that there is an underlying medical cause for your teeth discoloration, be sure to inform your cosmetic dentist.

What causes discoloration of the teeth?

There are several reasons why teeth may darken, including:

  • Coffee, tea, cola, wine, and certain fruits and vegetables (for example, apples and potatoes).
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco can stain teeth.
  • Poor dental hygiene, inadequate brushing and flossing .
  • Several diseases that affect enamel (the hard surface of the teeth) and dentin (the underlying material under enamel) can lead to tooth discoloration.
  • Medications, the antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolor teeth and mouth rinses and washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can also stain teeth.
  • As you age, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth gets worn away revealing the natural yellow color of dentin.
  • Genetics: some people have naturally brighter or thicker enamel than others.
  • Root treatments can also influence tooth colour.
  • Excessive fluoride either from environmental sources (naturally high fluoride levels in water) or from excessive use (fluoride applications, rinses, toothpaste, and fluoride supplements).

What types of bleaching are distinguished?

Two bleaching methods are distinguished:

  • External bleaching of vital teeth.
  • Internal bleaching of non-vital or "dead" teeth, where root canal therapy has been performed in the past.

Vital teeth can be lightened with external bleaching. We differentiate two methods:

  • In-office bleaching in the dentist’s office.
  • Take-home bleaching. Your dentist may give you a bleaching gel to take home and apply to your teeth in specially prepared trays. The trays ensure the gel does not damage your gums. They are constructed by a dental technician from an impression taken by your dentist. Your dentist will check the fit of the trays and instruct you in their proper use. You will need to wear the trays for several hours per day (or overnight) for up to six weeks.

Laser Bleaching

Laser bleaching and whitening enhances the natural white of your teeth and offers the convenience and satisfaction of results in only one visit. This technique can lighten even tetracycline stained teeth (depending on the depth of stains) quicker than other techniques. A dentist protects your gums and soft tissue. Bleaching material is placed on the tooth/teeth to be bleached. A laser is then concentrated on the material for a relatively short period of time, activating the bleaching process. 
With laser bleaching a dentist applies a peroxide solution to your teeth and then uses light or a laser to accelerate the whitening process. It takes approximately 1-2 hours to complete the procedure. The process involves no additional at home treatment. 
The long-term results depend primarily on the individual. Certain habits, such as using tobacco products, drinking coffee, tea, dark soft drinks, and infrequent visits to the dentist may lessen results. As long as you receive regular professional care and use professional after care products (whitening paste, etc.) you should be able to maintain results for a period of 1-2 years.

Is the process safe?

Laser tooth whitening is safe and will not soften enamel or existing fillings. The main ingredient in the gel that's used during the process is hydrogen peroxide. Dentists have used hydrogen peroxide solutions to whiten teeth for years. The percentage of hydrogen peroxide used in laser tooth whitening is 35%. 
In general this a very simple procedure where no anesthesia is needed as no pain is experienced. However, serveral patients may experince minor sensitivity during or following the procedure. This sensitivity lasts no more than a couple of hours.

How long will the teeth remain white?

The long-term effect of the treatment varies from one person to another. Clearly, Certain habits such as smoking, drinking coffee, tea and wine, or neglect of regular cleansing could once again quicken the darkening process of the teeth. Normally it lasts for three years. Then can the whitening process repeated without problems.

Non-vital and previously treated teeth

In case of non-vital teeth (root-treated teeth or teeth with died-off nerves) the teeth are bleached internally. Typical for non-vital teeth is their greyish discoloration. The area where the nerve of a tooth was originally located is opened and the bleaching appliance is directly inserted into the area of the former dental pulp. The dentist will drill a hole (if it is a front tooth, the hole will be on the back so that you can't see it) and put the bleaching product into the hole. The hole will be sealed with a temporary filling, leaving the bleach inside the tooth. The procedure won't hurt because the tooth has no nerve inside it. Sometimes, the colour hasn't lightened enough, and the process needs to be repeated.

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