Fact about teeth whitening and bleaching

Teeth whitening is becoming a popular option with a number of dentists and salons now offering good deals on treatments and well known retailers like Boots and Amazon selling home whitening kits.

Here are some facts about tooth whitening provided by Balsall Common dental practice in Coventry.


Surface Stains
The most common causes of tooth stains are tobacco (tar), strong tea, coffee, red wine and Melanoidins (large discolouring molecules from cooked vegetable oils). Medicines containing iron and heavily coloured foodstuffs can also be a contributing influence. Deposits of tartar (calculus) that form around the necks of the teeth will also pick up unsightly stains that are extremely difficult to remove.

Internal Stains
Teeth which have had their nerve removed (dead or non-vital) will always be darker than their live (vital) counterparts. Upper front teeth (incisors) that have taken a heavy knock (trauma) will frequently become discoloured if the blood vessels have been ruptured at the end of the root (apex). If a haemorrhage (bleed) has taken place within the tooth itself (pulp chamber) the usual bruising and healing processes of the soft tissues cannot occur. The blood products break down in the tooth and cannot be taken away by a fresh blood supply. As a result the tooth can become seriously discoloured.

Regular visits to the dentist or hygienist and proper tooth brushing are all an essential part of maintaining good oral hygiene, a healthy mouth and clean teeth.

External bleaching
Dentists can bleach teeth externally by applying a bleaching product containing peroxides (usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). It can either be done at the dental surgery or by the patient at home (under the dentist’s direction). At-home systems contain lower concentrations of peroxide, usually 3.5%. The dentist takes an impression of the teeth to produce a custom-made tray that covers the teeth to be bleached. The tray will hold the bleaching gel against the teeth with minimal contact with the gums and other oral tissues. The tray is worn for several hours, usually at night time or when it is most convenient. A course of treatment usually takes two to three weeks. Possible side effects include minor sensitivity of the teeth to heat and cold. These symptoms are usually mild and will quickly ease when the treatment ends.

In-surgery systems usually involve a higher concentration of peroxide, which is used with a powerful dental light unit. Your gums need to be protected using a rubber shield or special paint-on varnish. The procedure takes from 30 minutes to an hour. This is sometimes repeated to achieve the maximum effect.

Internal bleaching
When a tooth is discoloured following the death of the pulp, the dentist can carry out internal bleaching after the completion of root canal treatment for the tooth. The bleaching agent is sealed inside the tooth for about a week. It is cleaned out when satisfactory lightening is achieved and a tooth-coloured filling is placed inside the tooth.

Discoloured fillings will not improve with bleaching. They will show more if the surrounding tooth structure is bleached and they may have to be replaced. Your dentist will be able to tell if bleaching is suitable, or not, and discuss other options such as veneers and crowns for improving the appearance of the teeth.

There are a number of good whitening toothpastes available to choose from like Crest 3D White which promises whitening of up to 90% of surface stains, a level consistent with some of the best teeth whitening toothpaste options available on the market today. This product offers superior bleaching, as well as a formulation to protect sensitive enamel from wear over time.

Contact Balsall Common on 01676 529000 to arrange your free, no obligation, consultation (worth £95) to discuss your options.

Balsall Common Dental Practice offers all available whitening techniques to suit different situations and budgets. Your dentist can discuss the different options and recommend one for you.