Teeth Bleaching FAQs


Teeth Whitening

Many people today yearn for the youthful look of whiter teeth. However, prior to undergoing the procedure, you are sure to have some questions. Here are some of the most common.

Does Teeth Bleaching Do Any Harm?

It's a natural question to ask. How could something that makes such a difference in your dental appearance not be in some way damaging? The truth is that the tooth bleaching process is surprisingly harmless. Professional products used for bleaching teeth in the dental office have received the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association. That should assure you of their safety.

Although they appear to exist on the surface, most of the stains that discolor your teeth reside in the dentin directly beneath. The whitening products reach them by traveling through tiny tubules in the tooth enamel. The process may leave the teeth in a sensitized state, but this does not mean that they have suffered harm. After a few weeks, the natural organic materials in your saliva will remineralize those tubules, and by this time, any sensitivity will have disappeared.

Who Is a Candidate for Professional Teeth Bleaching?

As with any other cosmetic treatment, some individuals will find themselves to be better suited to bleaching than others. The ideal candidate will have teeth that despite having yellowed are still in good condition. They will preferably contain no fillings or other restorations, and the gums that surround them will be pink and healthy.

In other words, the teeth whitening procedure is best suited for the patient who:

  • Is over 16 years of age.
  • Does not suffer from dental caries, exposed roots, tooth decay or periodontal disease.
  • Is not allergic to any teeth bleaching products.
  • Has a mouthful of natural, non-sensitive teeth.
  • Is neither pregnant nor nursing.

The patient whose mouth contains implants, bridges, crowns or fillings cannot benefit from teeth bleaching. The same is true of anyone who is hoping for an unrealistic, snow-white result.

Obviously, not everyone is going to meet these standards. If you do, however, you might think of the teeth bleaching process as something akin to an instant face lift. That's because the lighter the teeth, the younger the look.

Does Teeth Whitening Work?

As you may have surmised from the answer to the previous questions, it is not possible to whiten crowns or veneers. Any treatment that lightens natural teeth while leaving restorations in their original state will lead to a peculiar and likely unwanted result. Bleaching does work on natural teeth, but the extent to which it does this will vary from one person to another.

Keep in mind that while whitening products such as those sold over the counter will remove stains on the outer enamel, they do nothing for the peskier stains that show through from their home in the underlying dentin. Only the bleaching process will accomplish this. Depending on your suitability for the procedure, you can expect to emerge from the process with your teeth between three and eight shades lighter than before.

Will All Teeth Bleach to the Same Degree?

The extent to which any one tooth will whiten depends on the thickness of its enamel. The heftier it is, the better the result. Furthermore, teeth that have suffered a deeper discoloration will lighten to a lesser extent, while those that already enjoy a high degree of whiteness may not have much further to go.

Another problem will arise in cases where the gumline has receded, exposing the darker surface of the root. There are also certain types of discoloration that respond to teeth bleaching less readily, and these will require specialized treatment.

What Will Be the Long-Term Result?

Nothing lasts forever, and the same can be said of teeth bleaching. In most cases, you can expect that professionally bleached teeth will stay that way for the next two or three years. After that, they are likely to darken gradually back toward their original color. Much depends on your diet and whether you are a smoker. Eventually, however, you may reach the point of needing another bleaching treatment.

What Is the Bottom Line on Teeth Bleaching?

When it comes to whitening your teeth, bleaching is always the preferred method. There are other ways to arrive at the same result, but these will involve the use of bonding materials and cause damage to healthy tooth enamel while bleaching procedures leave it intact.

Dr. James White believes in providing patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their dental treatment. If you have any questions about the teeth bleaching process, please contact our offices today.