Can you Bleach teeth to make them Whiter?

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Teeth can become discoloured for a number of reasons. However, one of the most common causes of tooth stains are an excessive intake of certain foods and drinks such as tea, coffee, red wine and highly coloured foods. Smoking also plays a major role in stain development with brown nicotine deposits forming into stains deep inside the tooth which are very difficult to remove. Similarly, as people age, their teeth tend to naturally become darker. In some cases, stains can be attributed to oral health problems such as a build up of plaque or tartar. If plaque is allowed to harden into tartar, it can often increase the rate at which stains are formed as well as causing a range of other problems. Trauma or injury to the tooth which causes the nerve or blood vessels to become damaged, can also sometimes cause the affected tooth to darken in colour.

There are a range of products on the market which can help you whiten your teeth to varying degrees. Over the counter whitening kits are available for purchase at many pharmacists. The kits come with bleaching gel and a rubber mouth tray. The kit works by placing some of the bleaching gel into the rubber tray and then wearing it over your teeth for about half an hour per session. Most over the counter bleaching gels tend to use hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient. To ensure safety, the amount of hydrogen peroxide in over the counter kits is usually of a much weaker concentration than you'd find used in professional tooth bleaching. As such, they tend to be less effective than the methods used by a dentist. Over the counter kits can be successfully used to combat a range of discolorations and stains, but it is always best to consult your dentist before using a kit as there may be alternative methods available.

Professional bleaching is a highly effective way to whiten teeth and remove even those stains which have penetrated deep into the tooth. The method is similar to using an over the counter kit but with several refinements. Firstly, the rubber mouth tray involved will be custom made to fit your mouth perfectly, making the application of the bleaching gel more effective. The gel will also tend to be of a much higher concentration than that used in over the counter kits, which should provide more effective results. The kit will have to be worn for a few hours every day and after a few weeks of use, should provide noticeable results. It is also possible to have a professional bleaching carried out in-office, meaning you will have a session at your dentist's surgery and then follow up with a home tooth whitening kit, if needed.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »