By Vishant Nath DMD
Over the past few years, the topic of tooth bleaching has become very common. There are several different types of tooth bleaching to choose from. They vary in everything from cost to effectiveness.
As the name implies, tooth whiteners or bleachers lighten the color of the tooth surface because they contain peroxides, or bleach components as the active ingredient. A very common side effect of tooth whitening is sensitivity in the teeth. Teeth contain microscopic dentinal tubules that run from the nerve of the tooth to the surface of the tooth. A tooth will become sensitive when the fluid in these tubes moves around. Normally, minerals in saliva plug the ends of the tubes that are at the tooth surface. The introduction of bleaching gels can dissolve these plugs, leading to the fluid in the tubes moving around, causing tooth sensitivity. In addition, some individuals are genetically more susceptible to tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity due to tooth bleaching is temporary, and will normally go away when the bleaching is discontinued.
Tooth bleaching is available in many different over the counter dental care products. From toothpastes to mouthwashes to tooth whitening strips, there are quite a few products to choose from that are advertised as having teeth bleaching abilities. These types of tooth whiteners are usually the most inexpensive. The effectiveness of these products will vary depending on such factors as how often and continuously they are utilized.
A visit to your dentist will introduce two more choices in teeth whitening products. Your dentist can make a custom mold of your teeth and provide you with tooth whitening gel to use with this tray for in-home bleaching. Because it is specifically molded to your teeth, this method is usually a bit more effective than those that you can purchase in a store.
The last tooth whitening method is in-office tooth bleaching. This is typically the most effective method of tooth whitening. The effectiveness of the peroxide is enhanced through several factors. The teeth will be kept dry during the process through the use of gauze as well as a device called a retractor, which will pull the lips away from the teeth while the peroxide is applied. The gel can be left on for 30 to 60 minutes. Also, sometimes the teeth will be exposed to a curing light or laser to further activate the peroxide.
No matter which method of tooth bleaching appeals to you, talk to your dentist to find out more about which products and methods they recommend. No matter what your budget might be, there is a product out there for you!