Bleaching Your Teeth

Jan 24 • 2 minute read

My excellent assistant, Ellan, recently came back from lunch and told me she had watched an episode on Dr. Oz’s medical advice show.  His topic this day was dental  bleaching.  He made some good recommendations on the inadvisability of doing any teeth bleaching without first consulting your dentist.  Bleaching materials are peroxides of varying strengths which can damage exposed dental  tissues, for instance in open cavities, if you are unaware of the potential.  Gum tissues can be burned by too strong of bleaching  materials.  However when used correctly accumulated stain is safely oxidized resulting in noticeably whiter teeth. 

                I remember  back in the early 1980s when I first started doing some teeth whitening.  I would buy hydrogen peroxide solutions from beauty supply stores and place a rubber dam on to protect the gum tissues and proceed to place the peroxide on the teeth to be whitened.  Extreme care was necessary to prevent burned areas on the gums if they contacted  the peroxide solution.  This worked but was a crude method compared to the myriad of ways we have today.

                Dr. Oz seemed to think that the Bleaching done in the dental office was the “Gold Standard” for whitening the teeth.  I am not in total agreement with him here.  Certainly, there are advantages to this kind of whitening but there are also disadvantages.  It is the most time efficient way to whiten the teeth and for some people this is important.  In an hour or two the teeth are whiter and there is nothing the patient has to do on their own.  On the other hand, it is more expensive and the results are variable.  Some patients teeth bleach easily and others are more difficult to get satisfactory results. 

                The most popular and dependable method in my office is bleaching with custom bleaching trays.  Of course,  there are advantages and disadvantages with this method also.  The bleaching trays can be worn for as little as  a half hour or as much as overnight depending on which bleaching gel one uses.  You can go as fast or slow as you want with this method which can be useful if you are sensitive to the bleaching process. ( Some people will experience a temporary sensitivity to cold when bleaching their teeth.)  Also you have the ability to bleach several times until you get the amount of whiteness that you desire.  In addition several months to years later you can bleach the teeth again or touch up the whiteness.   The main disadvantage to using the custom trays is you have to spend the time with the tray in the mouth  which means you will need some time where you can’t talk too much or do much else other than sit there.

                Finally,  there are over the counter products that can be somewhat effective.  These products are not as strong , of necessity, and will work better if you have fairly straight teeth.  They are not as comfortable to wear but can be less expensive.  Again you should check with your dentist before attempting to bleach your teeth.  Also since they are not as strong they will take longer or will not be as effective.  If you use them according to instructions they will work but it will take a little more effort.  I think the white strips are the best of the choices here.

However you choose to do it, you will be glad you did.  It really does make a difference in your look.

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