Your smile is one of the most important aspects of the way that you present yourself to others. If you are not pleased with the color of your teeth, then you may be a candidate for bleaching. Bleaching is a simple method of lightening teeth involving the application of a bleaching agent.

Earlier, the only way to brighten a darkened tooth was to cover it with a lighter restoration, such as a crown, which requires removal of natural tooth tissue. Modern advanced methods of lightening teeth are the product of many years of research into the safest, most effective means of treating discolored teeth. Bleaching works because the teeth are porous, allowing some solutions to penetrate through the enamel.
When performed properly under the supervision of a dental professional, research has shown that bleaching works without lasting damage to underlying dental tissues.

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
Tooth color is largely inherited. Some of us are born with the tendency for lighter (or darker) teeth. Similarly, some people's teeth respond better to bleaching than others. In addition to heredity, the color of your teeth depends on the number and location of caries, how the teeth have been restored, how well teeth have been cared for, and other lifestyle factors.

Tooth discoloration may result from external or internal causes. External causes include the use of substances that stain tooth enamel, such as all types of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, pan, pan masala, gutka and snuff). Cigarettes can cause deep stains as well. Coffee and tea are also major causes of tooth staining.

Patients who are candidates for bleaching have to realize that the behaviours that lead to stained teeth must change or the results of bleaching will not last. Internal causes include problems that originate within the body.

Tetrarycline discoloration - The use of antibiotic, tetracycline for young children can cause permanent staining of teeth.

Fluorosis Staining - Fluorosis staining is the result of ingesting large amounts of fluoride during the development of teeth (may be due to drinking water).

Discoloration from dental disease - A tooth may become badly discolored as a result of disease or death of the nerve of the tooth. This can be caused by trauma, infection, or extensive caries damage.

The aging process - Stains accumulate simply because teeth have been around longer and have been exposed to a variety of stains for a long period of time. Bleaching can be extremely helpful in treating the discoloration that ordinarily occurs with aging.

Discoloration of teeth occurs for many reasons. Bleaching will work beautifully for some but not all types of discoloration.

There are many Home Bleaching Products are available, but the long-term effects are not known. Before using any of them, you should consult your dentist. Chemicals such as those found in bleaching products are most safely applied by dental professionals using specialized equipment that will protect surrounding tissue to the greatest degree. Remember...
Your dentist can help you determine whether or not bleaching is the best option to brighten your teeth. In certain cases, other procedures may be recommended, to achieve the desired effect.

How can you brighten your smile?
Anyone who feels he/she does not have a bright smile should not feel disheartened, one must consult the dentist to get a brighter smile by getting the teeth bleached or any other method your dentist feel will be proper to achieve a bright smile. But bleaching may not be a permanent solution.

Is bleaching for everyone?
It may not be an option for everyone, only if your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking. Teeth darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange respond better to lightening. Other types of gray stains caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline are lightened, but results are not as dramatic. If you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal disease, or teeth with worn enamel, your dentist may discourage bleaching.

What's involved?
Your dentist will use either an in-office bleaching system. However, most patients choose dentist-supervised at-home bleaching, which is more economical and provides the same results. The dentist will make impressions of your teeth to fabricate a custom-fitted tray for you. The tray is custom made for your mouth and is lightweight so that it can be worn comfortably while you are awake or sleeping.It is so thin that you should even be able to talk and work while wearing it. Along with the custom-fitted tray, you'll receive the bleaching materials. You'll be given instructions on how to wear the tray.

Some bleaching systems recommend bleaching your teeth from two to four hours a day. Generally this type of system requires three to six weeks to complete, and works best on patients with sensitive teeth. Other systems recommend bleaching at night while you sleep. This type of system usually requires only 10-14 days to complete.

How long does it last?
Lightness should last from one to five years, depending on your personal habits such as smoking, chewing gutka, pan, pan-masala, tobacco, drinking coffee and tea. At this point you may choose to get a touch up. This procedure may not be as costly because you can probably still use the same mouthguard. The retreatment time also is much shorter than the original treatment time.

How does it work?
The active ingredient in most of the whitening agents is 10 percent carbamide peroxide (CH4N2O2), also known as urea peroxide; when water contacts this white crystal, the release of hydrogen peroxide lightens the teeth.

Why my teeth are unevenly whitened?
Sometimes the biting edges and the sides of the teeth whiten more quickly than the rest of the teeth. This occurs because your enamel is thicker in these areas and responds faster to the whitening process. As you continue to use the tooth-whitening system, the rest of your teeth will catch up and the color will even out.

Is it safe?
Several studies, during the past six years, have proven bleaching under the supervision of a dentistto be safe and effective. Some patients may experience slight gum irritation or tooth sensitivity, which will resolve when the treatment ends. To date, there has been no testing done on the effects of using a professional tooth-whitening system during pregnancy. Therefore, we do not recommend that you use it if you are pregnant or lactating.

How much one should expect by bleaching?
No one can really predict how much lighter your teeth will become. Every case is different. Typically, there is a two-shade improvement as seen on a dentist's shade guide. The success rate depends upon the type of stain involved and your compliance. Bleaching can only provide a shift in color from gray to a lighter shade of gray, for example. Bleaching does not lighten artificial materials such as resins, silicates, or porcelains.