7 facts about whitening your teeth

  1. Tooth whitening is a chemical process

Bleaching or tooth whitening is done using peroxide group of compounds such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These compounds when activated in contact with the surface of a tooth release free radical oxygen, which penetrates the outer layers of the tooth and oxidize the color producing pigments giving your smile a whiter appearance. Now these treatments may be done in office or at home (with products dispensed by your dentist).

  1. Whitening can be completed quickly

In office bleaching will only require about a one hour office visit. At home whitening usually consists of 2 weeks and 1-2 hours per day before you get the desired shade of your teeth.

  1. Whitening is not permanent.

Bleaching is not a permanent treatment and the effect may last from about a year to a maximum of three years. With a few precautions on the patients part and regular touch ups, you may be able to maintain an everlasting white smile.

  1. Post whitening care is necessary

Post bleaching, reducing intake of food that could stain teeth, such as tea, coffee, wine, sodas, etc. is necessary. The patient also needs to keep at bay habits such as smoking or tobacco usage. Apart from that, the patient needs to maintain meticulous oral hygiene by brushing and flossing the teeth regularly.

  1. If done right, there are few side effects

When done under trained hands, the side effects are minor and limit themselves to slight sensitivity of teeth, which may last for about a few hours to a few days post the bleaching session. Sometimes the gums might get irritated due to the seepage of the bleaching agent to the gums.

  1. Professional tooth whitening is not for everyone.

You may not be a good candidate for the procedure if:

  • You are child or adolescent (unless recommended by the dentist)
  • You are a pregnant or lactating woman
  • You have teeth that have cavities, gum disease, exposed tooth roots, incomplete dental work or hypersensitivity
  • You have restorations such as bonded fillings, veneers or crowns on the front teeth unless they are to be replaced post bleaching
  • You are allergic to peroxides


  1. All types of tooth discolorations are not amenable to whitening.

Sometimes a person may have teeth in which the enamel or dentin (tissues which make up a tooth) may be malformed. This may be developmental or due to excessive intake of fluoride during childhood. At other times, prolonged administration of tetracycline (an antibiotic) during childhood may intrinsically discolor one`s teeth to a gray shade. In such cases bleaching will not work and  the patient will have to look for other options such as veneers or crowns, which one can discuss with a dentist.

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