We have received a high level of interest in tooth whitening procedures (also known as tooth bleaching). The technique generally uses a custom-made mouthguard, which contains a peroxide-containing whitening gel. This mouthguard, loaded with the gel, is worn either during the day for just one hour or overnight during sleep. Treatment time is generally 2 weeks.
Prior to its introduction into the dental literature in 1989, this technique has been used in patient care since 1968 with no significant detrimental effects on teeth, gums, restoration or systematically i.e. in the body as a whole. We would advise, however, to stop smoking during the course of treatment. Groups not acceptable for whitening treatments generally include expectant or nursing mothers or children.
Two side effects which we have noted are –
Some teeth become sensitive to temperature changes during treatment. However, sensitive teeth return to normal when treatment is completed, with no long-term effects noted (7 year recalls).
Some patients may experience irritation by the peroxide solution in a portion of their gums. This may be due to a need to adjust the mouthguard. Chemical irritation resolves within one to four days without cessation of treatment.