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  • Writer's pictureDr. Saumitra Saravana

Tooth Whitening or Bleaching

or a lot of people Cosmetic Dentistry begins and probably ends with Tooth Bleaching or Whitening. For many of us a better smile might just mean whiter teeth.

Lets get into history of Bleaching,

Bleaching teeth is not a new procedure. Romans have been known to use Uric Acid, Washing Soda or Sodium Carbonate and Salts of Tartar (Potassium Carbonate) to whiten their teeth. In the United States most available Bleaching options contain Carbamide Peroxide and or Hydrogen Peroxide. Some countries have allowed the use of Chloride Dioxide for this purpose, but its safety has not been established and we are not sure if you should use it at this point.

So, why do teeth get discolored?

Teeth get stained either internally or on their surface. Surface stains collect on teeth due to our habits such as Wine or Tea Consumption, Smoking etc. Also, if you are not regularly getting your teeth cleaned at a Dental Office, you are more likely to have tartar build up on your teeth causing them to turn yellow.

Teeth also discolor as a result of aging or the way they form genetically. Sometimes teeth get discolored as a result of Trauma where as fall or an accident can cause the "nerve" inside the tooth to "die". Teeth also discolor because of long standing Amalgam or Silver fillings inside them.

So what are the steps before you get your teeth Bleached?

It is our opinion that before you initiate any Bleaching treatment, you should consult your Dentist. Because there are many different reasons for them to get discolored, it is always best to get a professional opinion before you begin your bleaching journey. Many times cavities are asymptomatic or "quiet" and need to be taken care of before you initiate bleaching. Putting bleaching agents on teeth with cavities is not a good idea. Also, bleaching works well on a clean tooth surface. If your tooth is covered with tartar or stains you will not be getting a good result.

What are my options?

There are multiple different options to Bleach your teeth. The least effective products are the "Whitening" products such as Toothpastes etc. These products can call themselves Whitening because the FDA defines Whitening as removing stains so the teeth are clean and as white as they can be. Bleaching on the other hand is actually changing the color of the teeth. So just " whitening" products are probably not as effective as Bleaching products.

As far as Bleaching options go there are again different options. You have two different options at a Dental Office. One being the "Power Whitening" option where the bleaching is carried out inside the office. Chemicals with higher concentrations of Peroxide are used for a duration of an hour or so. This may be accompanied with a light. These options are typically more expensive, however there is the convenience of having your teeth significantly lighter in an hour or so. The power bleaching option will require you to use trays for a few weeks to get to the shade that you prefer.

The other type of Bleaching that is commonly done by a Dentist is a "Take Home Bleaching" using Trays that are custom made for your mouth. Our office prefers this kind of this Bleaching. The process is gradual and can be stopped if you start developing problems.

You could use these trays to deliver Fluoride or Sensitivity relief materials if needed. More importantly there is no difference in the amount of whitening delivered by both methods.

Commercially available Bleaching options range from Trays, Strips that have Peroxide on Polyethylene strips and even paint on gels. These maybe a good options for patients with a healthy mouth, who do see the Dentist on a regular basis but, a poor option for people who have not had a Oral Evaluation in multiple years.

Is Bleaching Safe?

There has been a lot of research on Professionally conducted Bleaching treatments for the past 20 years or so that shows that Bleaching is a very safe procedure. However there are a few common risks. Gum Irritation, Tooth Sensitivity and rarely allergic reaction to the chemicals in the Bleach. There are multiple ways these symptoms can be managed with help from your dentist so that you can have your teeth as white as you would like.

It is important to note that the research has only supports the safety of Professionally Conducted Bleaching and it does not support the safety of over the counter materials.

It is also possible to "Over Bleach" your teeth. We have seen patients abuse bleaching products causing their teeth to get a reddish-grayish color. Unfortunately, since a lot of times these patients are bleaching without supervision, they tend to bleach their teeth even more and it makes the problem worse. So, it's always safe to use these products with professional guidance.

All bleaching products release free radicals and it is commonly known that free radicals have been linked to cell damage and have potential toxic effects. We do tend to advise caution when women are expecting, lactating, and in teenagers. We feel that they should wait before they bleach their teeth. More research is needed before we can assume that this procedure is harmless in these patient population.

So, armed with all this knowledge, come in or call us to schedule an appointment for your FREE CONSULT at Pearl Family Dental and if you qualify, you can get Complimentary Whitening done at our Office.

That is right, FREE BLEACHING ar Pearl Family Dental located in Fredericksburg 22406.

If your are looking for a dentist near you/ in Fredericksburg area or you need to get a free consult or have any questions about Dry Mouth call our office at 540 370 8504 or email us at

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