A popular dental treatment for those with discolored teeth is tooth whitening, which is also known as tooth bleaching. Although this dental treatment has become extremely popular in the past twenty years, tooth bleaching has actually been around since the 1800’s. The development of home applied tooth whitening treatments in the late 1980’s significantly changed the field of tooth whitening.
There are four categories in the tooth whitening market: dental office applied whiteners; dentist prescribed and dispensed whiteners for the patient to apply at home; over the counter (OTC) products for at home application; and other at home bleaching options.
Most tooth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide, though some do contain carbamide peroxide, a substance that releases hydrogen peroxide when in it decomposes. The hydrogen peroxide concentrations in OTC products usually range from 3-10 percent, while those in-office products commonly are in the 15-38 percent range.
Research has shown there are no significant health risks associated with tooth bleaching materials, though hydrogen peroxide is an irritant and in high concentrations can be potentially corrosive to mucous membranes and can also cause tissue damage if used improperly. Two-thirds of users complain of tooth sensitivity, due most likely to the peroxide passing through the enamel and dentin to the pulp of the tooth.
Dental experts suggest before you whiten your teeth, have an examination by your dental professional. In a dental examination, the soft and hard tissues of the mouth as well as the neck and head are examined for any problems or signs of disease, and the patient’s health and dental history will be discussed to assess any allergies or tooth sensitivity that may be an issue in the whitening process.