Dental Scaling or Bleaching: When is Dental Bleaching Done & Ways to Bleach the Teeth

Dental Health & Plaque

Plaque is a coating of bacteria that is present in one’s mouth. The intake of food and drinks without proper dental care leads to a buildup of plaque which covers the teeth like a coating and is extremely sticky. While proper brushing and flossing can remove plaque easily, absence of proper dental care increases the plaque problems and leads to irritation in the gums. The gums swell up and in an attempt to clean off the bacteria, they become prone to bleeding. The plaque over time gets hardened to tartar and can cause loss of bones near the gums, until the tooth falls out completely.`

Dental Scaling or Bleaching

What is Dental Scaling & Why is it Done?

Dental Scaling is required to peel off this hardened tartar from the teeth and adjoining gums. In Dental Scaling, hand instruments or machine used instruments are used to scrape the tartar off. A dentist engages in scaling and polishing the teeth to keep them safe from problems of gum disease. A mechanical tool with a fine tip is also used at times, to spray water and disinfectants to the loose pockets of plaque from the teeth and gum line. This method is effective not only for removing tartar, but also in keeping the periodontal pockets clean. The dental scaling method is followed by a process of polishing by the dentist to ensure perfect cleanliness of the teeth.

What is Dental Bleaching?

Dental bleaching or teeth bleaching, also known as teeth whitening, is usually a cosmetic procedure that can make your teeth several shades whiter. It is a quick and non-invasive way to enhance your smile and make it look brighter and attractive. But this procedure isn’t a permanent solution for discoloration of teeth and it needs constant touch-ups to remain effective. Bleaching of teeth includes brightness shades that are possible beyond one’s natural teeth color. Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is used as bleach substances in dental bleaching. Results usually vary from person to person and dental bleaching cannot whiten existing fillings, dentures or crowns. Dental bleaching is usually done to remove stains from the teeth. Let us have a look at the common causes of tooth staining which require dental bleaching:

Causes of Tooth Staining: When is Dental Bleaching Done?

Age: Our teeth start to discolor with age as stain accumulates over time. They also darken due to wear and tear. While the result of teeth bleaching on teenagers is magnificent, this process requires a little more maintenance for people in their 30s. People who are in their 50s fifties and have developed stubborn stains on their teeth require extreme care during the process of dental bleaching.

Eating Habits: Habitual consumption of dark colored foods and beverages like tea, coffee, red wine, turmeric, carrot and oranges can give rise to stains on the teeth. Acidic foods like citrus fruits and vinegar can also contribute to tooth stains by eroding the enamel. Enamel erosion makes the surface transparent which leads to more visibility of stains. These teeth stains can be gotten rid of by the method of tooth whitening or dental bleaching.

Smoking: Nicotine results in tooth discoloration and leaves brownish deposits on the teeth that get accumulated over time and look very unattractive. Smokers can benefit from a visit to their dentist to get their teeth bleached. However, this is not the permanent solution, as smokers need to quit smoking if they want to get back their sparkling smile.

Teeth Grinding: Teeth grinding is a direct consequence of stress that involves gnashing and bruxism. Teeth grinding leads to development of micro-cracks in the teeth that results in darkening or staining of the edges. Dental bleaching can be done to lighten these dental stains.

Trauma: When a person falls down and suffers injuries, they can develop sizeable cracks in their teeth, leading to staining and accumulation of debris. Such people can benefit from dental bleaching for their problem.

Excessive Use Of Drugs & Chemicals: While teeth undergoes formation, use of tetracycline drug leaves stubborn dark brown and grey stains on the teeth that are difficult to remove. Dental bleaching can be tried to lighten these stains.

Translucent Nature of Teeth: Some people have translucent teeth as a result of genetic trait, which show its effects as a person ages. Opaque teeth respond better to dental bleaching while thinner teeth due to less pigmentation respond less to dental bleaching. Such type of teeth transparency is more prone to staining and cannot be cured by dental bleaching.

What Are The Ways In Which Teeth Can Be Bleached?

An effective solution to tooth staining or tooth discoloration is dental bleaching. Bleaching has its best effects only when done by dentists and professionals. There are usually three ways of carrying out dental bleaching:

  1. At-home bleaching kit

    This is the most preferred bleaching method where your dentist gets an impression of your teeth and based on requirements, gets a bleaching tray made from you. A soft putty material is sent to the laboratory for this purpose. The dental bleaching tray is a small plastic tray that fits perfectly over your teeth. A bleaching agent, preferably carbamide peroxide, will be prescribed to be used at regular intervals. Instructions for its usage shall be provided by the dentist. You will require wearing the bleaching tray from over an hour to an entire 12 hours, based on your bleaching agent and bleaching requirements. These at-home dental kits provide effective results when used for longer durations of time. This involves the use of low concentration peroxide gel that is applied to the teeth with customized bleaching trays that look like mouth guards.

  2. In-Office Bleaching

    Teeth are whitened or bleached in the dentist’s office, where the bleaching agent is directly coated on the teeth like paint, by the dentist. Depending on the bleaching agent that is being used for whitening purposes, a light is used to act as a catalyst – an agent that speeds up the process of dental bleaching. In-office dental bleaching usually takes an hour and is one of the best preferred method people who prefer an instant outcome and aren’t comfortable with long and time consuming processes of bleaching their teeth. In-office dental bleaching provides considerable tooth color change in a short span of time. The gums are usually protected with a paint-on rubber dam after which a high concentration peroxide gel is applied to the teeth. People with stubborn teeth stains can be asked to return for an additional in-house bleaching session or asked to continue maintaining their teeth with the help of home based bleaching kits.

  3. Over-the-counter Teeth Whitening Kits

    This involves a store-bought dental bleaching kit that contains a low concentration of peroxide gel. This method being the cheapest and thus most affordable is also the most convenient of all three. The low concentration bleaching gel can be applied to the teeth using strips, paint-on applicator systems and customized bleaching trays that fits all sizes. At times, this method of teeth bleaching can only effectively whiten the front teeth in comparison to other methods that whiten all the teeth.

How to Maintain the Results of Dental Scaling & Bleaching?

  • It is advised to refrain from consuming dark colored beverages like coffee, tea and red wine and foods for a week after dental bleaching has been done.
  • After getting dental scaling done, patient should brush their teeth twice a day, floss daily and use mouthwash to maintain their teeth after scaling.
  • Patient must use a straw to drink dark colored beverages as and when possible, after the first week has passed, to extend effectiveness of results of dental bleaching and scaling.
  • Patient must also practice exceptional oral hygiene. Brush and floss certainly every time after you eat a meal and before bedtime, without fail.

Risks Involved in Dental Scaling & Bleaching:

The process of dental scaling & bleaching can often leave you exposed to the risks of loose teeth, chemical burns and soreness in the gums. Here is a look at the risks you can expose yourself to when doing dental scaling and bleaching:

Increased Teeth Sensitivity: Dental bleaching and scaling can increase teeth sensitivity to temperature, pressure and touch. This happens most to patients who undergo in-office bleaching where high concentration bleaching gel is used. Spontaneous and recurring shooting pains called zingers occur in the middle of the front teeth, at times. Patients who have gum recession are more prone to sensitivity from dental scaling and bleaching. While bleaching sensitivity usually lasts for usually two days, at times it can continue to a month where the intervention of your dentist is essential. Scaling can also cause tenderness and swelling in the gums and increases the sensitivity of the teeth. Toothpaste with potassium nitrate is often prescribed for this condition.

Irritation & Soreness in the Gums from Dental Bleaching: The ones who use peroxide whitener gels become more prone to irritation in the gums. This gum irritation results from high concentration usage or contact to the customized trays.

Dental Bleaching can result in Different Colored Teeth: Bleaching is not responsive to existing crowns, dentures or fillings. They maintain their usual yellowish brown color while the normal or healthy teeth surrounding them acquire a bright white shade with bleaching. The best results of teeth whitening or bleaching can only be viewed after two weeks have passed. To avoid this problem, you can be required to replace tooth colored restorations. Pregnant women are advised to not undergo teeth bleaching as effects on the fetus is unprecedented.

Improper Dental Scaling Can Loosen Teeth: Scaling done by inexperienced dentists or if not done in the right way can cause loosening of some teeth, especially where there is receding of gums.

Dental Scaling Can Make Teeth More Vulnerable To Gum Diseases: Teeth scaling which is not done properly can cause more buildup of plaque and lead to more gum problems.

Dental Scaling and Bleaching in Diabetics: People suffering from diabetes should be extra careful when undergoing dental scaling or bleaching. The instruments used in these processes should be clean and hygienically handled. Additionally diabetics are at increased risk for developing infections if any of the procedures are not done in an appropriate manner.


None of these dental processes are permanent. The dental bleaching effects can last from 3 months to 3 years, depending on the condition of the patient’s teeth and dental hygiene. Consuming drinks like coffee, tea and red wine and food that involves turmeric and saffron, in large amounts and moreover smoking can cause tooth stains and reduce the effects of dental bleaching.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 29, 2018

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