Why Bleach My Teeth?
When you meet someone, do you flash your smile? Or do you hide your teeth? If yellow or stained teeth are keeping you from looking and feeling your best, bleaching. It’s a safe, quick, at-home process that whitens your teeth and will put a brighter smile in your life and give your self-confidence a boost.
Is Bleaching for Me?
Bleaching is tough on stains but gentle on your teeth. It can remove many stains that are in the outer layers of the tooth. If your teeth have yellowed with age or are stained from tobacco, tea, coffee, or food, bleaching may restore their natural whiteness. Antibiotic (tetracycline) stains and discoloration caused by an injury may take longer to bleach and not respond as well. Bleaching will not change the color of fillings and crowns, and it’s not advised if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
How Is Bleaching Done?
Bleaching is a simple process that you do at home, following your dentist’s instructions. Your dentist examines your teeth first, then molds are made of your teeth, and finally, you’re given your bleaching trays and gel. How long home bleaching takes depends on the method and the gel your dentist uses.
Your Teeth Are Examined
At the first appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums and discuss how much whiter bleaching can make your teeth. Before you begin at-home bleaching, your teeth must be clean. Any gum problems need to be treated. Any cavities must be filled, and old or leaky fillings may need to be replaced. You may also be asked to sign a consent form.
Your Molds Are Made
Next, molds of your teeth will be made. Often this can be done during the first visit. The molds are used to make custom-fitting, flexible vinyl trays that hold the bleaching gel snugly against your teeth.
You Receive Your Trays and Gel
Finally, you’ll be given your trays and the bleaching gel. You’ll be shown how to put the gel in the trays and how to fit the trays in your mouth. You’ll also be told when and for how long to wear the trays each day. How many weeks you’ll need to use the bleaching gel depends on how badly discolored your teeth are and how carefully you follow your dentist’s directions.
For best results, follow these tips:
- Brush and floss tour teeth before putting in the bleaching trays.
- Follow your dentist’s directions exactly, and use only the materials your dentist gives you.
- Spit out any excess saliva. The bleach won’t harm you if swallowed, but it can irritate your throat.
- Don’t eat or drink while you have the trays in your mouth.
- Rinse your mouth out well after bleaching.
- Avoid citrus fruits and other acidic foods. they can make your teeth more sensitive.
- Call your dentist if your throat, teeth, or gums feel irritated.
What to Expect
You’ll probably notice that your teeth begin to look whiter within a few days. Some teeth can be harder to bleach than others, however. You can discuss the results at your follow-up visit.
Checking the Results
After you’ve bleached your teeth for the recommended time, the dentist or a trained staff person will check your teeth and discuss the results with you. Do not continue daily bleaching unless you’re told to, or you may overbleach your teeth. To help keep your teeth whiter, your dentist may recommend touch-up treatments from time to time. Be sure to follow instructions for how often and how long to do these treatments.
Keeping Your Teeth White
Once your teeth are whiter, you can help keep them that way by following these tips:
- Don’t smoke. Smoking stains the outer layers of your teeth, causing them to turn brown.
- Avoid food and liquids that stain. Red wine, tea, coffee, and some foods, such as berries, can leave stains on your teeth.
- Brush and floss your teeth at least once a day to remove plaque. Plaque turns to tartar (calculus), which can discolor your teeth.
- See your dentist for regular checkups and cleaning. Removing plaque and tartar helps keep your teeth white and free of decay.