Tooth whiteningis a process used to lighten or whiten your teeth by applying a product to them externally or internally.

Dental whitening may be accomplished by using either professional or at-home modalities.  Advantages of in-office whitening or whitening products dispensed and monitored by a dental professional include:

  • An initial examination to help identify causes of discoloration, help address concerns with treatment and manage post-op expectations
  • Professional control and soft-tissue protection
  • Patient compliance
  • Rapid results

The AAPD recognizes that the desire for dental whitening in pediatric and adolescent patients has increased.  A negative self-image due to discolored teeth can have serious consequences on adolescents and could be considered an indication for bleaching.   Due to a difference in thickness of the enamel, primary teeth are commonly whiter than baby teeth; therefore, bleaching teeth when both primary and permanent teeth are present could result in a mismatched dental appearance.  A pediatric dentist should be consulted prior to whitening.

Peroxide-containing whiteners or bleaching agents improve the appearance by changing the tooth’s intrinsic color.  The professional-use products usually range from 10 percent carbamide peroxide (equivalent to about 3% hydrogen peroxide) to 38% carbamide peroxide (equivalent to 13% hydrogen peroxide).  Carbamide peroxide is the most commonly used active ingredient in dentist-dispensed tooth-bleaching products for home-use.  In-office bleaching products commonly require a protective barrier to protect the gums.  Home-use bleaching products contain lower concentrations of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

In addition to providing in-office bleaching, the dentist may fabricate custom trays for at-home use with bleaching products.  Custom trays ensure intimate fit and fewer adverse gingival effects.

Tooth Whitening