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Teeth whitening (bleaching)

Teeth bleaching whitens the teeth by removing stains from tooth enamel.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: September 18, 2012

A white, bright smile is an important accessory for any face. Teeth bleaching uses either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to break down stains and make teeth whiter. While most toothpastes include particles of silica or aluminum oxide to grind away surface stains, these ingredients can't clear up long-term, persistent staining.

Most bleaching procedures - whether self-administered at home or performed by a dentist - contain about 10% hydrogen peroxide or a higher concentration (about 20%) of its slightly weaker derivative, carbamide peroxide, an oxidizing agent which breaks up the stain-causing molecules on the teeth.

What It's Good For

Teeth bleaching is the whitening of teeth to remove stains from tooth enamel. These stains can be blamed on all kinds of culprits - drinking dark liquids, like red wine, coffee and colas, smoking, and even the use of some older antibiotics, like tetracycline.

Who it works for: Teeth that become yellowed or grayed from various social habits, like smoking or a nightly Merlot, will likely benefit from teeth bleaching. Genetically discolored teeth are less likely to be affected. Teach bleaching will have little to no effect, however, on teeth that are stained due to exposure to tetracycline (this affects patients between 45 and 50, for the most part).

Recommended age range: No age restrictions are associated with teeth bleaching. There is even teeth bleaching for toddlers.

When will I see results?: It should be noted that, with more powerful bleaching, some of the immediate whitening effect has to do with the teeth's dehydration; this fades after a week or so. Even still, your smile should be significantly sparklier after your teeth bleaching treatment.

How long it lasts: The whitening can last six months to a year with proper dental care and oral hygiene.

Key benefits of teeth whitening (bleaching): Bleaching has a very high success rate for teeth whitening, particularly those leaning toward the yellow side (grayish teeth are harder to deal with). Brighter smiles often increase patients' self-esteem.

Did you know?: Bonding and veneers, more complex cosmetic dental procedures, are often done in cases where bleaching isn't sufficient or is unavailable.

Who's Done It?

Keira Knightley, Demi Moore, and ex-Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have had their teeth bleached.

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