Your dentist has given you a bleaching kit to take home with you together with your bleaching trays. It is essential that you follow the instructions given by your dentist and the manufacturers instructions in wearing the trays and applying the bleaching agent. Below are responses to some of the most frequently asked questions about home whitening.
How long should I wear the trays for?
This depends on the amount of lightening you desire and the original shade of the teeth. If you are not experiencing any sensitivity, you should wear the trays for at least 1-2 hours a day, or even sleep with them in your mouth. It is very important to remove all the excess material from around the gums or the palate prior to sleeping with the trays in place.
The darker your teeth, the longer they will take to lighten. Some changes usually occur after 1-2 weeks, and most teeth will lighten in 4 -6 weeks. (NB Tetracycline staining can take over a year to lighten).
I f you cannot wear the trays every day due to your hectic schedule, it does not matter. Bleach your teeth according to your own schedule. Some people put the trays in after dinner in the evening and wear them for an hour whilst watching TV. If everything is fine, they replenish the trays and sleep with them in their mouth.
What do I do if I have sensitivity?
Sensitivity of teeth is the most common side effect of home bleaching. In fact many patients suffer from sensitive teeth any way. This usually occurs around the necks of the teeth where the gums have receded. If you are experiencing sensitivity you should stop bleaching your teeth for a few days. You can resume after 3-4 days. If the teeth become ultra sensitive you can place a sensitive toothpaste into the bleaching trays and wear for an hour a day. This will usually stop the sensitivity. Alternatively you can rub the desensitising toothpaste directly into the gum margins with your finger 4-5 times a day for a few days.
What happens if my teeth do not bleach evenly?
If the teeth have white spots on them before bleaching, these spots will appear whiter during the first few days, however the contrast between these spots and the rest of the tooth will become less and eventually they will not be noticeable. You may notice new white spots occurring on the teeth whilst you are undertaking the bleaching treatment. These white spots were already present on the tooth before bleaching. As the teeth become lighter they become more visible. Do not worry. As the whole tooth becomes lighter these spots will fade.
Some teeth may appear banded with lighter / whiter areas. Again, these bands were originally present in the teeth. As the whole tooth is dark these bands are not obvious. As the tooth lightens, the bands become visible and then fade as these too lighten.
How will my teeth feel?
Normally the teeth feel very clean after the bleaching procedure. The bleaching materials also have an indirect effect on the gums in helping them heal or improving the gum health. This is how the whitening technique was invented, as it was first used to alleviate gum irritation during orthodontic treatment.
What about my smile?
Your smile will appear brighter as a bonus of whitening. It is rare, but sometimes the teeth do not lighten at all. If this happens and you have been wearing the trays as directed, you may need to try a different product or regimen. Discuss this with your dentist.
If you have white fillings in the teeth that match the existing shade before bleaching, they may not match your teeth afterwards, as they do not lighten during the process. When your desired tooth shade has been reached, after 2-3 weeks for stabilisation, you could discuss replacing these restorations with your dentist. Please be aware that this will incur additional costs.
How long does bleaching last?
Normally the new colour of your teeth keeps quite well. This depends on how much tea, coffee, wine, berries, curries etc you consume. You may need to top up the whitening ater 18-24 months, or not at all.
Does bleaching harm the teeth or gums?
Studies have shown that bleaching teeth using a dentist prescribed home bleaching kit is safe for the teeth, gums and soft tissues of the mouth. It is the equivalent to having one cola drink. The bleaching material has a neutral ph.
Over the counter or online bleaching kits often contain very harmful acidic rinses and should be avoided.
It is not advisable to bleach your teeth if you smoke. It is best to stop smoking for at least 3 weeks before commencing the bleaching procedure. Smoking darkens the teeth and will severely diminish the lightening effect.
Home bleaching is not for everybody. It is contraindicated for those under 18 years of age, pregnant or breastfeeding women, where the anterior teeth are crowned or very heavily filled or there are signs of pre existing tooth surface tissue loss.