- Non-bleaching teeth whitening products work by physical or chemical agents to remove surface stains only. Examples are bleaching toothpastes that polish the tooth with abrasives
- A bleaching product can change the natural color of the tooth. The bleach removes deep stains and surface stains. Examples are crest white strips, professional bleaching supplies for at home teeth whitening, and in-office bleaching products
- Teeth whitening material is comprised of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Fluoride, potassium or nitrate can be added to reduce tooth sensitivity.
- The mechanism of teeth whitening involves the unstable peroxide chemically breaking down larger pigmented organic molecules within the enamel matrix into smaller less pigmented molecules.
- Tooth bleaching is rarely permanent. The effects last typically 1 to 4 years.
- Restorations such as crowns or fillings will not bleach and only natural tooth structure will lighten.
- The long-term effects from bleaching agents on teeth of pregnant or nursing mothers has not been studied; therefore women who are pregnant or expect to become pregnant should postpone treatment.
- Average treatment time is generally 2-6 weeks using professional bleaching products for at home teeth whitening.
- The more treatments per day, the faster the bleaching; however, this concentrated use of bleaching agents can also increase sensitivity.
- Do not wear the bleaching appliance while eating or drinking.
- Discontinue use if the teeth, gums or bite become uncomfortable.
- The majority of side effects involving tooth sensitivity resolve within 24 to 48 hours of discontinuing the use of the bleaching material.