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Bleaching has become a popular elective dental treatment in recent years. There is a movement among Americans to look more youthful, and whiter teeth are an important ingredient for that look. Many companies that produce these products advertise in magazines or on TV, creating the illusion that anyone can do this and the results are predictable and dramatic.

From a professional standpoint, there are realistic limitations to the bleaching process that the public is not aware of. Bleaching is not a predictable scientific process in which the dental profession can accurately forecast the precise color your teeth will become. In addition, the bleaching process, once initiated, must be kept up on a regular basis to maintain the new color and many individuals experience tooth sensitivity during bleaching. The younger the person is, the more and easier their teeth will change, the older you are means the process will be slower and perhaps not as bright white.

There are a number of methods one may elect to bleach their teeth. A whitening tooth paste can be purchased over the counter. This works best on younger people, is not generally sensitive, and any change is quite subtle. Crest White Strips is a more effective technique, may create a little sensitivity for some, and those 50 and older may not be happy with the result. One hour in office laser bleaching is available in some offices. It is costly to have done, does not last as long as the next procedure described, creates most sensitivity, and has the highest cost to renew. The most effective and efficient method, inclusive of overall cost, is the in office tray technique. Patients will still find a degree of sensitivity to this method, but seems to be managed adequately with the use of Prevident toothpaste one week prior to starting and during the bleaching process itself. Once you have the bleach tray made, they are yours for life, and teeth can be maintained every six months after a regular dental cleaning for two to three days.

Instructions to bleach your teeth using the tray technique are quite simple. Many manufacturers package the same type of bleach product with slightly different instructions. You may follow the prepackaged instructions in your kit, which may say to keep the tray in all night, or for two hours a day, or one half hour twice a day. All of those instructions will of course work, but for the most effective and efficient result try the following: (1) place one drop of bleach material the size of a BB on each tooth to be bleached, do not do back teeth, (2) put the tray in place after evening dinner for three to four hours, you can put fresh drops in at the two hour mark, (3) take the tray out, rinse, brush with Prevident, and repeat daily for three weeks, (4) the bleach material should last the entire time when used correctly, (5) call or consult with the office staff if sensitivity problem is not tolerated.