Teeth can discolour for a number of reasons including:
Stains on the surface of the tooth can be removed with a professional clean but will not change the intrinsic colour of the teeth.
Teeth Whitening uses a bleach to oxidise and remove the coloured compounds within teeth. It is a safe and conservative way to lighten the teeth without causing any irreversible damage. It is recommended to have an examination prior to commencing any tooth whitening. This can help assess whether you are suitable candidate and individual results can vary depending on the severity of the discolouration.
Factors that could make teeth whitening unsuitable include:
Bleaching can be performed in the dental surgery (in office bleaching) or at home (take home kits). In office bleaching involves several applications of high strength bleach to the teeth to produce immediate results. This is generally followed by a period of bleaching at home for another two weeks to maintain the colour change.
Bleaching at home consists of a lower strength bleach that is dispensed into customised upper and lower bleaching trays and worn for up to an hour a day for two weeks. It achieves the same colour change as in office bleaching.
For root canal treated teeth that have discoloured it is possible to bleach the tooth internally to lighten the tooth. In cases where internal bleaching is unable to achieve the desired result a veneer or crown may be considered instead to disguise the discolouration.
Results from tooth whitening are quite stable but usually requires periodic reapplication every few years in order to maintain the colour change. In some cases it may be necessary to replace any restorations that no longer match or appear darker than the natural tooth after bleaching.
Side effects of bleaching tend to be mild and resolve a few days after bleaching. They include:
Bleaching should always be carried out under the supervision of a dentist and as such over the counter bleaching kits or bleaching performed in beauty salons are not recommended.