This is one of the more interesting sides of modern dentistry because we can now create a brighter smile without doing invasive procedures like crowns or veneers. Your teeth function in a fairly difficult environment: severe temperature changes, bacterial attack from the plaque and lots of strongly discolouring food substances which can leave their marks after many years of service. These yellowing food stains are called chromagens and if you drink tea, coffee, red wine and especially smoke, there are ample opportunities for these chomagens to be absorbed by the enamel. These stains can now be removed by using oxidising gels like carbamide peroxide. This penetrates the enamel and oxidises the stains.
We use the home bleaching technique which works with a mild carbamide peroxide gel in a custom made night guard. Think of what rugby player use to protect their teeth but then in a wafer thin variety. The fit is important as it needs to keep the gel on the tooth surface. A poorly fitting night guard will not only be uncomfortable to sleep with, it will also increase the sensitivity of the teeth during the procedure. Some sensitivity can be expected as a side effect during the whitening process but most patients work their way around that by alternating upper and lower jaw every couple of days. The use of Sensodyne Rapid Relief toothpaste is also recommended during the whitening procedure. The advantage of night time bleaching is the fact that saliva flows are reduced and the gel does not get diluted as quickly as during day time bleaching.
Please note that the carbamide peroxide will influence natural tooth material only so it will not have any effect on crowns, bridges or fillings. They will stay the same colour and as a result may become more noticeable if they are close to the front of your mouth. If whitening is desirable despite that, these restoration could of course be remade in a lighter shade after the whitening has been done to a satisfactory level. It does in that case make the procedure a little more involved but, dependent on the number of restorations, cetrainly not impossible.