Archive for November, 2011

Professional Methods of Tooth Whitening / Bleaching: advantages and disadvantages

There are two primary ways to professionally whiten teeth.  The following will provide a description of each method and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

“Home Bleaching” aka “Tray Bleaching”.

This is what I believe is the best method to whiten teeth.  Besides having the greatest potential for whitening, it is safest, least painful, and most economical way to bleach teeth.  You  the patient will be seen for two short appointments.  During the first appointment, you will have impressions taken and your existing tooth color will be recorded    Over the next several days, custom bleaching trays will be made from those impressions.  On the second appointment, the trays will be fitted and checked, and you will be instructed on the use of the trays and products.

To bleach the teeth, you will leave the tray in for a minimum amount of time.  Most people sleep with them in.  Your teeth will steadily whiten every day.  When they are as white as you want, discontinue use,

The whitening effects are permanent.  Any darkening over the next several years is new stain and not recidivism on the part of the teeth.  It is recommended that you re-bleach for a night or two every 2 years.

“One hour Bleaching” or “Zoom”  or “Laser” Whitening.

There are several steps to One Hour Bleaching appointments.  Initially, you will have the teeth isolated with barriers.  Once the teeth are isolated from the lips, tongue, and gingiva the bleach is applied to the front of the teeth.  Usually a light is applied and after the bleach has expired (15 minutes), the teeth are rinsed.  The process is repeated with 15 minute applications for  2 or 3 intervals.  It is not recommended that you have more than 4 applications at a time.

The good: It’s fast.  The procedure takes about one hour per treatment.  In our practice, we mostly do this for patients that need quick results.

The bad: It can be painful.  To bleach the teeth in one hour, we need to use an extremely aggressive bleach.  The gums can also become temporarily bleached if the product touches the gingiva.

Secondly, because it takes one hour of time in the dental chair, it is very expensive.  And the cost can get exorbitant when multiple appointments are needed for a satisfactory result.  One hour of treatment is only moderately successful.  Moreover, the immediate results are deceiving; here’s why:

During the one hour treatment, the dentist uses barriers to isolate the teeth so that no saliva can dilute & wash away the beaching agent.  All the while, the enamel is drying out and enamel dries out rather quickly.  As the enamel dries out, it whitens up on its own, but only temporarily.  It can take several hours to rehydrate and darken.  So the patient leaves the dental chair with results that are deceiving, only to suffer recidivism over the next several hours.

Then there’s the light….That “magical” touch.  Studies are showing that the light may not do anything other than heat the tooth up, which also gives a temporary lightening.   So the bleaching agent does not need to be activated with the light.  When in fact, the light may be nothing more than quackery.  ****a tangential note here:  Many of todays dental materials ARE activated by light.  Consequently, the idea that bleaching agents should be activated or enhanced by light is ingrained into the employment of bleaching too.

I feel strongly that the patient gets the best value with the “Take Home” or “Tray” Bleaching.    We offer both in our office, but I can bleach your teeth easier, better, and at a much more reasonable price with trays.


Add comment November 29, 2011