Bleaching is a way to lighten stained teeth without bonding plastic or porcelain material to the teeth, or removing any sound tooth structure. In this respect, it's one of the most conservative cosmetic procedures we have.
Bleaching is best for people with basically healthy teeth. We are cautious about bleaching teeth with a lot of enamel loss, or lots of large fillings. We also like to start with a clean environment; therefore, we may recommend a cleaning before starting your bleaching process.
The success of the procedure depends in part on what caused the tooth staining in the first place. Surface stains from coffee, tea, and tobacco can be bleached away using a custom made mouthpiece to hold the whitening solution next to your teeth. You wear your trays for about an hour a day for 2-4 weeks or until you achieve the level of whiteness you desire. Antibiotic staining, from tetracycline, for example, is more difficult to treat and would benefit from in office bleaching in addition to the mouthpiece type whitening. In office bleaching takes about 45 minutes per session. Dark teeth may require several sessions.