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Dental bleaching, also known as tooth whitening, is a common procedure in general dentistry. According to the FDA, whitening restores natural tooth color, and bleaching whitens beyond the natural color. There are many methods available, such as brushing, bleaching strips, bleaching pen, bleaching gel, and laser bleaching. Teeth whitening has become the most requested procedure in cosmetic dentistry today.
Bleaching methods use carbamide peroxide, which reacts with water or saliva to form hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide has about a third of the strength of hydrogen peroxide. This means that a 15% solution of carbamide peroxide is the rough equivalent of a 5% solution of hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide oxidizing agent penetrates the porosities in the rod-like crystal structure of enamel called the tubules and breaks down stain deposits in the dentin. Power bleaching uses light to accelerate the process of bleaching in a dental office.
According to the American Dental Association, different whitening methods include in-office bleaching, which is applied by a professional dentist; at-home bleaching, which is used at home by the patient; over-the-counter, which is applied by patients; and options called non-dental, which are offered at mall kiosks, spas, salons, etc.
The whitening shade guides are used to measure tooth color. These shades determine the effectiveness of the whitening procedure, which may vary from two to seven shades. The effects of bleaching can last for several months, but, may vary depending on the lifestyle of the patient.
Application of a professional dental-grade hydrogen peroxide whitening gel (25-38% hydrogen peroxide), and exposure to the light source for 15 minutes. Recent technical advances have minimized heat and ultraviolet emissions, allowing for a shorter 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.
Internal bleaching procedures are performed on devitalized teeth or a Dead Tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment (Root Canal) but are discolored due to internal staining of the tooth structure. Unlike external bleaching, which brightens teeth from the outside in, internal bleaching brightens teeth from the inside out.
Side effects of teeth bleaching include, but are not limited to:
- Chemical burns from gel bleaching sensitive teeth.
- Pain for "sensitive teeth" caused by open dentinal tubules.
- Risk of increased hot/cold sensitivity.