What is home bleaching?
Home bleaching essentially involves you going to the dentist, getting a set of trays for your teeth, and then applying bleach into those trays to whiten your teeth. The bleach is usually carbamide peroxide, and has variable concentration levels. By and large, the higher concentration and thicker materials produce a lightening effect more quickly than lower concentration, less viscous materials. Higher concentrations are able to cause more sensitivity, and are tolerated for less periods of time usually. Thus, how bleaching impacts you lifestyle is important in determining what agents you can use and for how long.
You should be advised to keep syringes of the bleach in the fridge when not being used. Open syringes should be left outside to prevent further sensitivity due to the cold sensation of cold bleaching agents.
Home bleaching has the following advantages over other types of treatment:
- Very little time at the dentist
- Usually much more financially affordable
- You are able to bleach your teeth at your own convenience.
- Some people may find the rubber dam or tissue dam very difficult to tolerate.
- People have the responsibility of wearing the trays and completing the treatment themselves.
- Many people like instant results and will want the treatment to take hours rather than weeks.
How home whitening is done?
This is a general procedure for home bleaching:
- The dentist first conducts a full clinical examination and determines the cause of the discolouration. It should be decided if bleaching is the best method treatment for this patient, e.g. are veneers and crowns a better alternative?
- The dentist will take clinical photographs of how the teeth look before and after the treatment.
- Any fillings that have decay around them may be removed and replaced as a temporary measure because the colour of the teeth will change.
- A thorough scale and polish will be completed, especially on the teeth that are expected to get bleached.
- You will be asked to open your mouth wide, and the dentist will take some moulds to make the bleaching trays that will fit only to your mouth.
- You will be recalled after the trays have been made and they will be tried in your mouth to see how they fit. Your dentist will show you how to apply the bleaching material to the tray.
- You need to return to your dentist for review 10 days to two weeks following the treatment.
- The dentist will examine your mouth for any adverse effects.
- The dentist will assess if there has been some improvement by comparing what shade your teeth were before to what shade your teeth are now.
- The dentist will most likely tell you to continue using the bleaching trays for a few more weeks and a review appointment will me made for you 2-3 weeks later.
- The second review is the same as the first, except the dentist may take some pictures of your teeth to compare the difference. At this stage the dentist will probably tell you to touch up now and then, rather than using it every day.
- You must pay particular attention to removing excess bleaching material from the gums with a cotton wool roll, toothbrush, cotton buds or finger as it can cause you gums to feel quite sore if you don’t.
- You will be given written instructions to take home with you including how to perform the procedure (it is best to brush and floss teeth prior to the applying the bleaching trays), the side effects, tray-wearing times and managing tooth sensitivity.
- Do not eat or smoke while applying the bleaching treatment.
- You should avoid smoking for two hours following the bleaching.
- Foods which have strong colours should also be avoided for 48 hours following treatment or consumed in moderation.
Side effects of home whitening
The most common side effect is tooth sensitivity.
About half the people who complete home bleaching report tooth sensitivity.
Another common problem may be some discomfort in the gums around the teeth due to the bleaching agent, or even improperly fitting bleaching trays.
For an unknown reason there is usually an increase in the health of the gums when people have whitening treatments done. This may be due to either an increase in oral health during times of bleaching due to increased attention on their teeth, or because the bleaching material is toxic to bacteria near the gums