Teeth whitening is one of the easiest techniques a patient can use in order to improve their smile. There are several methods a patient can use to bleach their teeth. Hydrogen peroxide is used for all bleaching methods, the strength is what varies.
Teeth have tubules, which are similar to pores in the skin. The hydrogen peroxide mixture opens these tubules and allows for the color of the teeth to change from the inside out; therefore whitening the teeth. These tubules close back up over time, so there is no permanent damage done to the teeth. However, while these tubules are open, the teeth are also susceptible to sensitivity and increased staining. It is recommended to avoid any dark liquids and foods while whitening and for a week after the whitening procedure is completed.
The least effective teeth whitening method is to use over the counter strips. Over the counter strips only work for a handful of patients mainly due to the low strength and inability for the strips to effectively adhere to the teeth for a long enough period of time. If the strips do in fact work, typically the patient must use them for a longer period of time.
Bleaching trays are the next level of whitening. The trays are custom fit to the patient, and a stronger strength of gel is given so they can whiten at their convenience. There are two different types of gels the patient can use with these bleaching trays, hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide works faster, so patients only have to wear the bleaching trays for 30-60minutes. Carbamide peroxide stays active for much longer, therefore patients can wear the trays overnight.
The most effective way to whiten is Zoom in-office laser whitening. Laser whitening procedure takes about an hour, but yields the best results of all methods due to the strength of the gel. The patient’s gums are protected, the bleach is applied, and the special laser shines on the bleach for 15minutes. After 15minutes, the old bleach is removed and replaced with new bleach, and the laser is used for another 15 minutes. A total of three to four 15minute sessions is done all in one appointment. Additionally, the laser intensity can be adjusted to cater to the patient’s comfort.
When comparing all the different methods, there is a clear advantage to doing the laser whitening due to the higher efficacy. One office visit of laser whitening is equivalent to about two weeks of daily at home bleaching with trays and to about one month of daily at home bleaching with over the counter methods. We recommend patients to do the in-office laser whitening and then get bleaching trays made so patients can do touch ups in the convenience of their own home. Typically, patients notice their teeth fade to a darker shade after a year after whitening is done. Consult with a dentist to determine which method is recommended for you.
Gum bleaching, also knowns as gum depigmentation is a procedure used to lighten black spots or patches on the gums. The dark spots on the gum tissue can be present due to certain factors, such as genetic factors, smoking, and long-term use of certain medications. Melanocytes are the cells that cause the dark spots within the gums and oral mucosa. A quick and simple procedure can be done to eliminate these melanocytes, therefore eliminating the dark spots, resulting in a lighter and more uniform color of the gums. There is little post op discomfort, and healing occurs extremely quickly.