Teeth naturally darken with age, and are affected by the accumulation of surface stains often caused from consuming highly pigmented foods, drinking wine, tea or coffee or smoking. Teeth whitening is one of the fastest and easiest ways to brighten your smile.
Teeth whitening options tend to fall into two categories: surface whiteners and bleaches.
Surface whiteners use special abrasives to help to remove surface stains that are accumulating on the teeth. These products are generally for at-home use and come on the form of toothpastes or gum. They are useful for ongoing maintenance, but are generally not as effective as professional level cleaning and treatment.
Most bleaches are peroxide-based and are able to alter the colour of the tooth itself (not simply remove surface stains). It’s important to note that not all tooth discolorations respond to the same bleaching treatments, so it’s important to consult your dentist for their recommendation. Vital bleaching is done on “living” teeth to tackle discoloration caused by staining. Non-vital bleaching on the other hand is performed on teeth that are no longer “alive” and may be darkened from complications such as a root canal.
Depending on the cause and severity of tooth discoloration, there are a number of options that your dentist can suggest in order to administer these whitening treatments. In-office treatments use a special bleach and a source of heat or light to activate the bleach. Noticeable differences can usually be seen within an hour of an in-office treatment. There are also at-home kits which involve a tray that is custom-fitted to your teeth that holds a special bleaching gel provided by your dentist.