What We Do: Bleaching

Bleaching is a cosmetic procedure to lighten the colour of your teeth.

There are various ways to do this. In our office we usually do an at-home daytime bleach.

How does it work?

We take impressions of the teeth, and make special thin flexible custom bleaching trays that fit exactly over your teeth. These are comfortable and almost invisible. (Bleaching Tray (Left) and Bleaching Trays in place (Right))

The bleach is a special peroxide mixture that activates as it comes out of the 2-part syringe. A very small amount of this thick gel is carefully placed in each tooth area of the tray, covering just the front of the teeth, and you wear this for 30-60 minutes twice a day. Once activated, the bleach works for about 60 minutes.

How long does it take?

You usually see results within a couple of days. The average patient takes a few weeks to see maximum results, but very dark or transparent teeth can take longer.

It is possible to have a chairside power bleach done too. This is much faster, but is less comfortable and may still need some at-home bleaching.

(Images show checking the progress with the Shade Guide (top) and 3 Weeks Later - 4 Shades Lighter (bottom))

How long do the results last?

The teeth will always be lighter than they were. Some patients may need a touch-up bleach for one or two days every year or so, especially if they continue to use coffee, tea or tobacco products. There is enough bleach in the kit for a few touch-ups.

Is it safe?

Please remember that bleaching is a cosmetic procedure, not a medically necessary one, so we do not aggressively promote it. It can alter the teeth slightly, leading to sensitivity. Many over-the-counter bleaching systems exist but these are only certified as cosmetics. The Canadian Dental Association currently does not endorse over-the-counter bleaching products . Many of these systems need you to use large amounts of fairly runny bleach, which get all over the teeth and gums, cheeks, tongue and throat, and much can be swallowed. There may be safety concerns about this. They are also much less effective than professional systems.

We do not use overnight systems, as we have concerns about the bleach getting swallowed. With the day-bleach systems we use, the thick gel is very carefully applied, and the patient has control over any excess getting on the gums and other soft tissues. Because the system mixes the bleach immediately as it is applied, there are no stabilizers like urea involved. There can still be some sensitivity. In most cases we can control this with special low-sensitivity bleach and fluoride gels, but some patients are too sensitive to bleach their teeth. Generally we have had excellent results with little sensitivity.

Other issues:

We do not recommend bleaching in pregnant patients. Bleaching does not lighten existing fillings, so they may appear darker than the teeth afterwards, and may need replacing.