This process, commonly known as tooth bleaching, has rapidly become one of the most requested forms of cosmetic dentistry.
Bleaching is prescribed when teeth become stained from the continual use of products such as coffee, tea, dark sodas, cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Bleaching will also lighten teeth that have become discolored due to the normal aging process or are naturally yellow or dark.
The most common bleaching technique is an "at home" treatment proven to be simple, safe and effective. Custom-made mouth trays are utilized along with a special whitening gel that is prescribed by the doctor. The patient wears the trays for a few hours each day or overnight, depending on sensitivity levels. The patient's progress is then closely monitored during subsequent visits to the doctor.
Although the bleaching procedure usually takes 2-3 weeks before optimum results are realized, several years of whiter teeth will follow.
Many over-the-counter bleaching processes now exist but the American Dental Association has indicated that none have withstood rigorous testing and some have actually caused more harm than good. Comparatively, over-the-counter bleaching materials are simply not strong enough to achieve very noticeable results and are frequently found to be a waste of time and expense.