What is Bleaching?
Teeth Bleaching is a procedure, which will help in bleaching or whitening the teeth to get a good smile. This will help increasing a person’s self esteem and make them more self-confident.

This procedure involves in the use of peroxide based bleaching agents to help whiten the teeth. The longer time these bleaching agents are applied, the whiter the teeth become.

The percentage of peroxide in the bleaching agent helps in the duration of application of the agent. Higher the percentage, shorter the time required for application.

Types of Bleaching
There are basically two main types of Bleaching options:

  • In Office Teeth Bleaching
    A dentist performs this bleaching option at his/her dental clinic. This option is faster and the bleaching solution used is usually stronger than the at home versions. The application of heat and light separately or sometimes together can help speed up and intensify the whitening process.
  • This option can help achieve nearly 3 – 8 shades brighter than other options. These procedures usually take at least an hour per visit. Some dentists use latest techniques like the Zoom system, which can help achieve the same result in a single 2 hour visit.
  • At Home Teeth Bleaching
    As the name suggests, this type of bleaching method can be done at home. The common options for teeth bleaching at home are:
    • Teeth Bleaching Strips and Gels:
      These bleaching agents can be applied directly to the teeth using a brush. These are applied once or twice a day for 2 weeks.
    • Tray Based Teeth Bleaching Systems:
      In this option, a mouth guard tray filled with the bleaching gel is placed over the teeth for a couple of hours per day for nearly 4 weeks. This bleaching system can be purchased over the counter of at any dental clinics.
    • Teeth Bleaching Toothpastes:
      Toothpastes, in general, are mildly abrasive and will help remove stains in the teeth. The Bleaching toothpastes contain chemical that act as polishing agents to remove the stains present on the teeth without the help of a bleaching agent. These are cheaper option to the bleaching option and can help achieve about one-shade lighter teeth.

Maintenance & Care of Bleached Teeth
The dentists would recommend maintaining oral hygiene by brushing, flossing and rinsing daily. They would also recommend that the patients do not consume acidic and tannin-rich foods and beverages as listed below:

  • Black tea and coffee
  • White and red wine
  • Sports drinks
  • Carbonated drinks like sodas, both dark and light coloured
  • Coloured foods that include berries
  • Sauces like soya sauce, tomato sauce, curries etc.

Risk Factors
Some of the risk factors involved in teeth bleaching are:

  • Bleaching teeth can make the teeth sensitive temporarily. People already with sensitive teeth might feel some discomfort.
  • Teeth Bleaching might not work for people with darker teeth, like brown or gray teeth. It usually gets best results in people with yellow teeth.
  • Always ask the dentist before using at home bleaching options.

Authored By Dr Sanjay N - Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopaedics, Bangalore

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