For stained or discoloured teeth, bleaching can lighten teeth that have not responded sufficiently to professional cleaning. It is a safe procedure when done by a qualified dentist. Bleaching may not be appropriate for people who have symptoms of oral disease. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth so that a custom-made mouth tray can be made. This holds the bleaching gel close to your teeth. The gums do not normally come into contact with the bleach.
Wearing the tray for 30 minutes every day for 5 days will gradually lighten the teeth. Some bleaching agents can be used all night, although this may cause irritation of the gums and the mouth in some people. Most mouth trays are light enough to permit talking and walking with them in place. Good results usually occur immediately after the process. The daily bleaching process can be continued until you are happy with the appearance of your teeth. However, it is not always possible to achieve white teeth. Your dentist will advise you on how long you should use the mouth tray each day and duration of the overall treatment.
See your dentist periodically while you are using the dental tray. The health of your gums can be checked during this visit. Any irritation that occurs is usually minor and settles once the treatment ceases. When the lightening process has finished, you can keep the teeth white by bleaching them regularly for short time.
Advantages of bleaching
- Bleaching is ideal for undamaged teeth that only need lightening in colour.
- Once the custom-made tray has been fitted, you are able to do the bleaching at home, and the tray can be re-used later.
- The upper and lower teeth can be bleached.
- Approved tooth-bleaching products are safe to use.
Disadvantages of bleaching
- Care needs to be taken so that the bleach does not come into prolonged contact with the gums. This may cause short-term irritation or burning.
- If your teeth are very sensitive, or if you have gum disease or worn teeth, bleaching may not be suitable.
- Some over-the-counter preparations are very abrasive, and although they work in the short term, they can damage teeth over the long term. Dentists do not recommend these treatments.
- Some white fillings may need to be replaced after bleaching.
- Some teeth do not bleach evenly.