Reviewed by: Dr. Kristen Dority
Chemical or laser treatment of natural teeth for whitening effect.
Aging, tobacco, coffee, tea, tetracycline antibiotics, and too much fluoride can stain teeth. Individuals interested in restoring whiteness to their teeth have a number of options, from over-the-counter tooth pastes and whitening systems designed for home use to procedures dentists can employ in the office.
Bleaching or tooth whitening uses a chemical oxidizing agent, with hydrogen peroxide being the most common. Light or heat can speed the bleaching process up, but the technique requires a clinical setting. Some cosmetic dentists also use a laser tooth whitening process.
When using home bleaching systems, individuals are cautioned to follow guidelines carefully inasmuch as over-bleaching can damage gingiva and cause temporary sensitivity. Home bleaching kits generally run from $300 to $500.
Most bleaching procedures are effective in minimizing stains from age, tobacco, and coffee. They are less effective in dealing with systemic types of stains from fluoride and tetracycline.
Last updated: 13-May-05