Are there different types of tooth whitening procedures?

There are several different procedures that can be used to whiten teeth. Bleaching procedures are used to remove intrinsic stains, or the internal coloration of your teeth. Some have to be performed by your dentist while others you can perform yourself at home. In-office whitening generally involves several visits to the dentist, during which he or she will carefully apply a bleaching solution to your teeth. Sometimes, a light will be applied to the bleaching agent to speed up its effect. Most in-home whitening procedures are milder. These treatments may cause increased sensitivity in your teeth, and they may irritate your gums as well. But both of these side effects should go away once you’ve finished the treatment. The mildest whitening procedure you can try is a tooth whitening toothpaste. These toothpastes are specially formulated to remove extrinsic or surface stains, but won’t change the natural (intrinsic) color of your teeth.
Tooth whitening is a process that makes discolored teeth whiter. There are several ways to whiten your smile. You should discuss your tooth whitening options with your dentist. He or she can tell you whether whitening procedures would be effective for you. If you are a candidate for whitening, some options are:
  • In-office bleaching. This procedure is called chairside bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect the oral soft tissues. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and a special light may be used. Lasers have been used during tooth whitening procedures to enhance the action of the whitening agent.
  • At-home bleaching. Peroxide-containing whiteners actually bleach the tooth enamel. They typically come in a gel and are placed in a mouthguard. Usage regimens vary. There are potential side effects, such as increased sensitivity or gum irritation. Speak with your dentist if you have any concerns.
  • Whitening toothpastes. All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. "Whitening" toothpastes in the ADA Seal of Acceptance program have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these ADA Accepted products do not change the color of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface.
Remember when selecting a whitener or any dental product, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance -- your assurance that they have met ADA standards of safety and effectiveness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.