Tooth Whitening 101

There are a few ways to brighten up your smile, with bleaching being one of the most popular due to its ease and low cost.  One big advantage of bleaching is that it’s a very conservative, minimally invasive way to really improve your smile.  In this article, I’ll outline a few key points about bleaching.

Bleaching changes the colour of natural tooth structure by stripping stained proteins

The outer surface of your teeth is made of enamel, which has tiny, microscopic pores in its surface.  Those pores have little protein cores which pick up stains and coloration from food, drink, smoking, and other environmental substances.  Peroxide-based tooth bleaching agents work by dissolving these stained proteins out of your pores, leaving behind a whitened tooth.  It’s important to note that fillings, crowns, or veneers won’t change colour during bleaching.

Manage tooth sensitivity before you bleach your teeth

Because bleaching removes the protein “plugs” from your enamel pores, it makes your tooth slightly more porous.  As such, some people experience tooth sensitivity after bleaching.  We prevent this by ensuring that your gums are very healthy before bleaching.  This reduces the risk that your teeth will become sensitive. We also recommend that you use a specific Fluoride rinse and desensitizing toothpaste for 2 weeks prior to and during bleaching.

“Touch up” your teeth from time to time

Like a perfectly white wall, bleached teeth can pick up stain over time, especially if you have staining habits like smoking or if you drink lots of red wine or coffee.  We always provide our patients with custom-made bleaching trays to keep at home for this purpose, and refills of bleaching solution are available at our front desk.  This gives you the opportunity to bleach whenever you feel the need.

Some teeth need more than bleaching

Some teeth, such as those that have been discoloured since childhood or those that have extensive fillings, are better treated with veneers or crowns to achieve a uniform light colour.  We are happy to have a conversation with you about how best to achieve the smile you want!