Generally, whitening is successful in at least 90% of patients, though it may not be an option for everyone. If you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal (gum) disease or teeth with worn enamel, your dentist may discourage whitening.
First, the dentist will determine whether you are a candidate for tooth bleaching and what type of bleaching system would provide the best results. If you’re in a hurry for whiter teeth, you may decide to have your teeth lightened using an in-office bleaching system. Some patients choose dentist-supervised at-home bleaching, which is more economical and provides similar results. Over-the-counter bleaching systems are also available and are generally safe and effective, although it is best to check with your dentist before using these products.
If you choose the at-home bleaching, your dentist or hygienist will take impressions of your teeth to create custom trays. The mouthguard like tray is lightweight so that it can be worn comfortably while you are awake or sleeping and is so thin that you should even be able to talk and work while wearing it. Along with the trays, you’ll receive the bleaching materials and you’ll be given instructions on how to use it. Some whitening systems recommend bleaching your teeth for several hours a day and other systems recommend bleaching at night while you sleep.
Lightness should last from one to five years, depending on your personal habits such as smoking and drinking coffee and tea. At this point you may choose to get a touch-up. The retreatment time is much shorter than the original treatment time.
Several studies have proven whitening to be safe and effective. Some patients may experience slight gum irritation or tooth sensitivity, which will resolve when the treatment ends. No one can really predict how much lighter your teeth will become. Every case is different. The success rate depends upon the type of stain involved, the type of bleaching procedure and your compliance. Whitening can only provide a shift in colour and does not lighten artificial materials such as composite restorations, porcelain veneers or crowns.