In most cases, the natural colour of teeth is within a range of light greyish-yellow shades. Teeth naturally darken with age and their appearance can be affected by the accumulation of surface stains acquired from the use of tobacco products and the consumption of certain foods or drinks.
Although teeth are not naturally meant to be completely white, many Canadians want a brighter smile. Responding to this desire, a wide range of “whitening” options has become available to consumers. The most common way to lighten and brighten your teeth is with the use of dental bleaching agents.
Most bleaching products are peroxide-based and are actually capable of altering the colours of the tooth itself. However, not all tooth discolourations respond to tooth-bleaching treatments. Individuals contemplating tooth-bleaching should consult with a dentist to determine the cause of the tooth discolouration and to determine whether a bleaching treatment will have the desired result. This step is especially important for patients with fillings, root canal treatments, crowns and/or with extremely dark stains on the anterior teeth.
There are three methods for bleaching teeth. The method that will work best for you depends on the number of teeth that need to be bleached, and on how badly they are stained (or discoloured).
Bleaching should be done only under a dentist’s care. Although many home-use tooth-bleaching systems are available to the general public, only bleaching agents prescribed by your dentist can get your teeth their whitest. Clinical studies support the safety and effectiveness of home-use bleaching gels when used appropriately. Tooth sensitivity and irritation to soft tissues can occur during bleaching treatment, but these effects are transient. Yet the effects of long-term tooth-bleaching are unknown and need to be researched, especially since the effect is not permanent and many individuals end up undergoing periodic bleaching treatments.