Tooth Whitening

Is bleaching for you?

Every time you look in the mirror, you think about whitening your teeth, but are afraid to take that first step for many reasons. You may concern about the cost, the product safety, or you just don't like to go to the dental office. Whatever the reason, I have a solution for you.  You don't need to go to the dental office and pay a high fee or search for teeth whitening products anymore.  There is a fast tooth whitening professional strength used and created by a dentist, Dr. George's Dental White Kit that many users report good results.

How does tooth whitening work?

Key ingredients in whitening gels are either Carbamide Peroxide or Hydrogen Peroxide. Most at home bleaching use Carbamide Peroxide that is a more stable than Hydrogen Peroxide.  The whitening gel releases the oxygen molecules when applies to the tooth surfaces.  The oxygen molecules penetrate tooth enamel through the enamel rod and begin to break down and remove the stain inside the enamel rods.  Resulting in more light passing through the enamel rods, and the teeth become a lighter color than before.

Tooth cut down in half-click to enlarge
When enamel rods inside enamel have stains (intrinsic stain); less light can pass through the tooth.  Thus, the tooth looks dull.  The more stain you have in the rod; the longer oxidation time needed. To reduce the time required, in the dental office; a high-intensity light is used to activate the oxygen and accelerate the oxidation process.

Over-the-counter methods rely more on longer contact time to deliver a good result.

For a short period after bleaching, the teeth are prone to stain. During this vulnerable time; avoid dark color foods and drinks such as chocolate, coffee, tea carrot juice.  Bleaching the tooth may make the tooth becomes temporary sensitive. The demineralization by bleaching gel caused the dentinal tubules to open, disturbs the fluid inside, results in tooth sensitivity. When the end of the tubules closes either through remineralization or application of desensitizing agents, the sensitivity subsides. 

Remineralization of enamel is a natural occurrence when the body uses minerals in saliva to close the end of opened rods, the result of bleaching gels.

Dentinal tubules located at the second layer of tooth structure, see illustration - tooth cut down in half

Note: Performing any whitening procedures more than once every two weeks, may damage the enamel, causing tooth enamel to be thinner.

Is tooth whitening safe?

Tooth whitening, if not abuse and misuse, has been accepted as a safe and efficient treatment. The common side effect is tooth hypersensitivity caused by the dehydration during the oxidation process. In general, the sensitivity is a short term condition and lasts only 3-5 days after stop using the products.

Note: Application of Vaseline to the gums prior to bleaching helps prevent irritation.  If there are white spots and sore at the gums after bleaching, apply vitamin E to the affected area to enhance healing.  The irritation is a temporary discomfort that will heal on its own.

Who is more likely to experience tooth sensitivity from tooth whitening?

People who have any of the following conditions are more likely to experience hypersensitivity after bleaching:
  • Gum recession, unless you brush the teeth with a strong fluoride toothpaste such as Fluoridex for 1 week
  • Bulimia causes erosion of the enamel
  • Acid reflux causes erosion of the enamel
  • Gingival and periodontal disease
  • Clench and grind the teeth until the enamel wears off
  • Untreated deep cavity or hidden deep cavity
  • Thin enamel
  • Have a habit of drinking acidic drinks such as all types of cola drinks and sour fruit juices, sour candies
  • Just have braces removed
Children under age 18, Pregnancy women and breastfeeding mothers; should not whiten their teeth.

Find treatment for tooth sensitivity here.

How to be successful in whitening your tooth?
  1. Consult with your dentist to see if you have any conditions that may cause
    you to have sensitivity from bleaching
  2. For better result, have your teeth cleaned to remove stains, plaque, and calculus before bleaching; wait few days for gums to heal before beginning the bleaching process
  3. During bleaching, drink only water and eat bland food (avoid spicy food, B-B-Q, ketchup)
  4. The whitening trays should fit snugly on the tooth only not to cover the gums
  5. Don't overfill the trays with the bleaching gel.  It's best to have only a thin layer of gel around the tooth
Which home whitening kits should you select?

A Tooth Whitening Toothpaste
Some toothpaste include a bleaching agent to brighten the tooth such as Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste, It is not as powerful as in whitening kits due to the minimal amount of bleaching agent. 

Whitening Strips
According to a consumer report; strip whitening made from a plastic film with bleaching agent coating on one side is the best home delivery kits. One of the widely use strips is Crest 3D White Whitestrips.

Dental tray delivery system may be the best choice next to seeing a dentist.  A bleaching tray made of thermoplastic fit the teeth well.  This type of mouthpiece can be found at "Touch of White Smile".  But if that is too challenging, you can have a custom tray made from the dental office.  If you have the night guards, you can use them as the trays for tooth whitening as well.

Some may find it more convenient to use mouth guards for sports or night guard found in most drug stores.  If you prefer to use this type of mouthpiece, you might need to alter them to fit snugly between your teeth.  Accurately fitting trays are crucial to ensure the gums are not affected while bleaching.

Here are some steps to take to improve the fitting of mouth guards.  It is better to do the top and bottom separately:
  • Place the new mouth guards in hot water until they become soft and flexible
  • Let the mouth guards cool down slightly before placing over your teeth
  • While the mouth guard is in your mouth, suck the mouth guard for few second until it takes the shape of your teeth.  Re-do as needed to get a good result. 
  • Limit the border of the night guards to the teeth