You’ve probably heard teeth whitening sometimes being called teeth bleaching, but is there any difference between the two treatments? In fact there is a slight difference, as teeth bleaching is where teeth are whitened to a shade beyond their normal colour, and the process uses a treatment containing bleach. You’ll find the active ingredients listed as being either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
In comparison teeth whitening restores teeth to their natural colour, usually through removing surface staining and any grime. Teeth whitening products such as toothpaste typically don’t contain any hydrogen peroxide. The difference is subtle but worth noting, as it can be quite confusing with some teeth bleaching processes being referred to as teeth whitening treatments. The one sure way to tell is to read the list of active ingredients.
Not surprisingly teeth bleaching is a very popular cosmetic dental treatment, as it lightens the shade of teeth to well beyond their natural colour. Recent legislation means the concentration of bleaching products in the UK is strictly controlled, and you’re likely to find that over-the-counter whitening kits only contain a small percentage of active ingredients. You’ll probably find your dentist is able to use something a little stronger as the types of whitening treatments performed in the dental surgery are strictly monitored. The product is often used in conjunction with a heat or light source which helps to activate the hydrogen peroxide into bleaching the teeth more deeply.
Using a Teeth Bleaching Kit at Home
If you choose to use a home teeth bleaching kit can then it’s worth following the instructions as closely as you can. You’ll usually find they contain tubes of bleaching gels as well as mouth trays. The instructions will tell you precisely how long to leave the trays in place and you should never exceed this time. This is because the bleaching process can sometimes make teeth more sensitive to hot and cold foods, and over bleaching is likely to increase this sensitivity.
Safe Bleaching for Sensitive Teeth
Anyone who has particularly sensitive teeth and gums may find it better to visit their dentist for advice on bleaching their teeth safely, as your dentist may be able to prescribe a method of teeth bleaching that is gentle but effective. It could be that you’ll be better off bleaching your teeth slowly as the results are easier to control, and you’ll be able to stop before any sensitivity becomes particularly uncomfortable or even painful.
Always Visit Your Dentist for a Full Checkup First
Anyone thinking of bleaching the teeth should always visit their dentist first. This is because teeth bleaching should only ever be carried out on a mouth that is completely healthy and free from dental diseases. Any issues such as gum disease or tooth decay must be dealt with first, otherwise the bleaching products could make the problem worse, and it’ll probably be extremely uncomfortable.
Your dentist is also the best person to advise you on the efficacy of certain treatments. Some treatments may have little effect, depending on the reason the teeth have become dark or stained. For instance, if you have a tooth that has darkened due to root canal treatment then it’s unlikely to change colour when bleached. Certain types of stains caused by antibiotics are unlikely to be whitened during teeth bleaching. If you have any dental restorations such as porcelain crowns or veneers then these will be unchanged during teeth bleaching. The most important thing to remember about bleaching your teeth, is to do it safely. It’s pointless having whiter teeth if they aren’t healthy and strong.