Teeth naturally darken with age, however staining may be caused by various foods and beverages such as coffee, tea and berries, some drugs such as tetracycline, smoking, or a trauma to a tooth. There are various teeth whitening options available, including in-office and at-home bleaching.

Home bleaching
  • There are some over-the-counter bleaching agents available. It is best to consult your dentist as to the advisability to bleach your teeth, as there are come contraindications (large fillings, receded gum-line, sensitive teeth, erosions).
  • The dentist may offer you alternate methods that are available. Special trays can be made that fit over your teeth. Bleaching gel is placed in these trays and the trays in turn are placed on the teeth. The length of time that the trays are in the mouth will determine the speed of the bleaching.
In-office bleaching

This bleaching is done by the dentist or hygienist in the dental Office. The teeth are isolated and the bleaching gel is painted on the teeth. A bright light activates the gel and bleaching is achieved in about one hour.

Problems that may occur
  • Bleaching effect does not reach the desired effect. Because the tooth surfaces and discolorations may differ from one tooth to another, the tooth whitening may also be different.
  • If the tooth discoloration is deep in the dentin, the bleaching effect could be less than anticipated.
  • The teeth may be sensitive to temperature changes. This is quite common and resolves itself in 2-3 weeks. This sensitivity may be greater if the gums have receded.
  • The gums may be sensitive but this usually goes away in 1-2 weeks.
  • The bleaching effect may be patchy due to filling in the teeth.
  • With any bleaching the fillings in the teeth will not change color and it may be necessary to change them to match the now whiter teeth.
  • The bleaching effect usually lasts for about 2 years, but this may vary depending on the type of foods you use. Using tooth pastes with bleaching agents in them may prolong the bleaching effect.
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