Tooth whitening, also known as dental bleaching, is a common procedure in general dentistry but particularly in the field of cosmetic dentistry.
A child's deciduous teeth are generally whiter than the adult teeth that follow. As a person ages the adult teeth often become darker due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth, as the enamel becomes less porous. Teeth can become stained by bacterial pigments, foodstuffs eg dark colored liquids like coffee, tea and red wine, and tobacco. Certain antibiotic medications (like tetracycline) taken during tooth development as a child can also cause teeth to be discoulured or cause a reduction in the brilliance of the enamel. Non-vital and root filled teeth may also appear grey over time.
There are several methods to whiten teeth - at our dental practice we use either the Zoom whitening (laser) bleaching performed in the surgery , or the 'at home ' method using custom made bleaching trays and bleaching gel over 2 weeks. Internal bleaching for non vital teeth may also be successful in certain cases.
A thorough dental check-up including X-rays is essential in order to eliminate the possibilty of dental caries, gingivitis , periodontal diease and to identify any sensitive teeth . In most cases you will need to have a scale and polish 1-2 weeks before the bleaching to remove tartare and superficial stains, and to give the gums a chance to heal if you have gingivitis.