Home Dental Care Teeth bleaching: what methods are there?

Teeth bleaching: what methods are there?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 180 views

While discolored teeth are medically safe, they are sometimes a cosmetic problem. If you want a radiant smile with beautiful white teeth, you can have your teeth bleached . Read here how dentists whiten teeth with professional bleaching, what different forms of bleaching there are and how stressful the procedure is for the teeth.

Teeth whitening: these options are available!

Would you like whiter teeth? There are several ways to do this:

Whiten teeth yourself

You can bleach your teeth yourself with over-the-counter bleaching products from pharmacies or drugstores. However, this only achieves very subtle results. Teeth bleaching at the dentist has a much more intensive effect, because the doctor can bleach your teeth with a higher concentration of carbamide peroxide, so that your teeth will be significantly lighter compared to self-treatment.

Incorrect dosages or ill-fitting splints can end up doing more harm than good. In addition, there must be no tooth or gum disease. So be sure to talk to a dental professional if you want to whiten your teeth yourself!

You can read about how you can bleach your teeth yourself and what home remedies can also whiten your teeth in the article on whitening your teeth .

Professional bleaching – teeth whitening at the dentist

Before professional bleaching, the dentist takes a close look at your teeth and gums . Your teeth must be completely free of caries for the treatment. Otherwise, the bleaching agent can penetrate the decayed teeth and cause damage. The gums must also be healthy. It must not bleed and there must be no periodontal pockets.

It should also be noted that tooth fillings and veneers made of ceramic or plastic, such as crowns and bridges, cannot be bleached. Even after the teeth have been bleached, they still have the same color as before. The dentist can then correct the color differences with new fillings.

In addition, the discoloration must not penetrate too deeply into the tooth enamel, because the bleaching does not have a sufficient effect there. If the teeth are discolored in deeper layers, a slight abrasion of the tooth enamel is therefore preferable to teeth whitening.

Professional bleaching: different methods

If you have decided together with your dentist to have your teeth bleached, the dentist will first remove deposits and discolouration from the tooth surfaces with the help of a professional tooth cleaning (PZR). What is still dark afterwards is eliminated with the help of tooth whitening. Dentists use a variety of methods to whiten your teeth:

Home bleaching

Home bleaching is the most common. To do this, the dentist first creates an impression of your teeth. Based on this, he manufactures thin plastic splints that are perfectly adapted to your individual tooth position. You can use the splints yourself at home:

Before each application, fill the splints with the carbamide peroxide gel that your dentist gave you. Then insert the splints in the evening for a few hours or overnight, depending on your doctor’s instructions. After about two weeks, you will usually have achieved the desired whitening of your teeth. During this time, your dentist will regularly check how badly the teeth have bleached and whether there are any side effects.

In office bleaching

Another method you can use to whiten your teeth is in-office bleaching at the dentist’s office. The dentist uses about three times the dose of carbamide peroxide used for home bleaching. It completely covers exposed tooth necks and the entire gum beforehand so that the highly concentrated bleaching agent does not attack these sensitive areas.

In-office bleaching bleaches teeth much faster than home bleaching because the active ingredient is in higher doses. As a rule, two to three sessions are sufficient to achieve the desired tooth whitening.

Power bleaching

With this method, you can whiten your teeth even more intensively and quickly. Power bleaching also takes place in the dental practice. In addition to the bleaching gel, the dentist uses a high-energy light source (eg UV or laser light) to irradiate the teeth. The heat speeds up the bleaching considerably. However, it has been shown that the stronger bleaching effect wears off after about six weeks and the teeth are then just as bright as after an in-office treatment.


The dentist removes internal tooth discoloration after root canal treatment with the so-called walking bleach. First, he opens the upper area of ​​the root canal in order to introduce the bleaching agent there. He then temporarily closes the opening.

After about a week, the tooth is opened again, the dentist removes the whitening agent and replaces it with fresh active ingredient. This happens about two to three times until the teeth whitening has achieved the desired effect.

Experts do not recommend more than four treatments, however, as this would weaken the tooth structure too much. At the end of the bleaching treatment, the dentist seals the tooth permanently.   

How bright can the teeth be?

The dentist uses standardized color scales to measure how much lighter the teeth should become as a result of the bleaching. Two to three color levels can be achieved. The German Society for Aesthetic Dentistry recommends not overdoing it with teeth whitening. The goal should be naturally beautiful teeth that look snow-white instead of artificial ones. How bright the teeth become depends on their genetic origin color. Some people naturally have darker teeth than others.

How long does bleaching last?

As a rule, the whitening effect after teeth whitening lasts for three to five years. In individual cases, how long the teeth actually stay whiter depends on the food and beverages consumed. Red wine, grape juice, coffee, tea and nicotine darken freshly whitened teeth more quickly.

In principle, you can have your teeth bleached again after a few years. It is only important that you do not repeat the bleaching over and over again, because afterwards the tooth enamel is a little less resistant to abrasion.

Teeth bleaching – risks and side effects

Dentists have been using bleaching successfully for many years. With caries-free teeth and healthy gums, side effects of teeth whitening are virtually impossible. The teeth can only react more sensitively to heat and cold stimuli for a short time. However, this effect disappears no later than two to three days after teeth whitening, often even after just a few hours. Dentists usually prevent increased tooth sensitivity by fluoridating the teeth after bleaching.

Teeth whitening: cost

Health insurance companies rate bleaching as a purely cosmetic service with no medical indication. Therefore, they do not assume any costs for teeth whitening. So you have to bear all bleaching costs yourself.

Anyone who lends a hand with teeth whitening comes off cheaper than users of dental bleaching services. Commercial bleaching products such as pastes, gels, strips or splints cost between 6 and 90 euros. But the comparatively low price has a catch: over-the-counter bleaching products lighten the teeth much less than the bleaching methods used by the dentist.

The costs and results at the dentist are significantly higher than those of tooth bleaching on your own. It is important to know that every dentist sets the bleaching price himself. The usual prices for teeth whitening are between 250 and 700 euros, depending on the method and the time involved. For individual teeth, the costs are between 70 and 150 euros.

At a glance:

  • Self-treatment: Bleaching costs between 6 and 90 euros.
  • Home bleaching: costs between 200 and 300 euros
  • In office bleaching: Bleaching costs between 300 and 800 euros.
  • Walking bleach: Bleaching costs between 70 and 110 euros per tooth

Why teeth whiten?

Coffee, tea, grape juice, berries, red wine and nicotine, but also certain medications such as chlorhexidine leave traces – the pigments contained are deposited in the enamel. Tooth color can also change from the inside out. For example, when blood particles penetrate the dentin during a root canal treatment.

In such cases, many of those affected want an effective and at the same time gentle tooth whitening. Because brushing your teeth alone can usually no longer remove the discolouration. Sometimes a professional teeth cleaning in the dental practice can help.

If that’s not enough for you, you can have your teeth bleached chemically. The so-called tooth bleaching can brighten the teeth by several shades.

The tooth whitening agent is called carbamide peroxide. It consists of carbamide – a tasteless, colorless carrier gel – and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The active ingredient penetrates the tooth enamel and releases oxygen radicals, which chemically change (oxidize) the dyes. The coloring effect is thus canceled and the teeth appear optically lighter again.

Who Shouldn’t Whiten Teeth?

Pregnant women and children should never bleach their teeth: Hormone levels increase during pregnancy . This causes, among other things, that the gums are supplied with more blood and become looser. It is therefore more sensitive and easily damaged. In children and adolescents under the age of 16, the tooth enamel is not yet fully mature. You should therefore not have your offspring’s teeth bleached until they are 16 years old.

Bleaching is also not advisable for people with:

  • tooth nerves lying close to the tooth surface
  • many and large fillings
  • hypersensitive teeth
  • cracks in the tooth enamel
  • braces

Teeth whiten with age

Younger people can achieve better results with bleaching than older people. This is because tooth enamel wears away over the years. At some point it is so thin that the underlying, darker dentin comes to light. Then even the best bleach won’t help. Instead, dentists recommend so-called veneers. The wafer-thin ceramic shells replace the missing tooth enamel. Teeth bleaching becomes superfluous.

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