Teeth can become discoloured from tea, coffee, smoking, and aging. These are considered extrinsic or superficial stains and respond well to treatment. Discolouration caused by excess fluoride or tetracycline use is internal and doesn’t respond well to treatment. Tooth whitening does not change the colour of existing fillings, crowns or veneers and is not recommended for patients with sensitive teeth or periodontal disease.
The process for treatment involves impressions of upper and lower teeth to fabricate custom-fitted trays. The patient receives the trays, whitening materials and instructions for home use. This involves wearing the trays with treatment material during the night for 2 weeks. The dentist monitors the patient during this time to assess progress or concerns. This home treatment method of tooth whitening is the most popular. Should the patient request immediate treatment; strong concentrations of whitening material can be applied in the dental office under the supervision of the dentist.
This system can sometimes irritate the gums. Tooth whitening is not permanent and touch ups may be necessary once per year depending on habits and susceptibility to staining. This method of enhancing the appearance of teeth has no adverse effects on tooth structure or existing restorations. Tooth or gum sensitivity experienced by some patients is generally not permanent. The treatment is generally painless and requires no anesthetic, making it an efficient and well-tolerated method of enhancing the appearance of teeth.