Bleaching is the application of a bleaching agent to the enamel of teeth to lighten the color.

There are many commercial products available to achieve this and they fall broadly into 3 types: 1 Whitening toothpastes which contain the bleaching agent
2 Bleaching gels or pastes which are applied with the help of bleaching trays or adhesive strips. These are all home bleaching kits.
3 In-office bleach which is applied by a dentist. This s a stronger agent and can only be applied by a dentist. This may be light or chemically activated as seen on T.V.

There is currently much publicity advocating the bleaching of teeth on T.V. and radio which stress the positive gains to be had from the various bleaching methods. These advertisements do not, however, point out any of the potential side effects.

These side effects may be:
1. Bleaching does not work for every person. Enamel is unique to the individual whereas the bleaching agent is a commercial product. Only once you try will you be able to determine if bleaching will lighten your teeth.
2. Sensitivity of the teeth increases in some patients. This is common, especially in people who have sensitivity in their teeth before bleaching. This tends to wear off in a few days, but can get worse and in extreme cases may cause pulp death.
3. Bleaching has to be done repeatedly if the whiteness of the teeth is to be maintained. The combination of in-office and home bleaching is usually a way of maintaining white teeth.

There has been a surge of interest and publicity in tooth bleaching and many patients have benefited greatly. If you are interested in bleaching, consult your dentist to see if it could be of benefit to you.