What is the walking bleach technique?

The walking bleach technique is used to whiten teeth that have had root canal treatments. It involves bleaching the tooth from the inside of the tooth. Root canal treatments may discolour teeth due to the materials used to fill the root canal, discolouration breakdown of blood in the root canal, and medications used in the root canal during the treatment, to name but a few.

It is very important to have a scale and clean before starting the bleaching treatment. If you do decide to undergo bleaching treatment, then it is important to know that the tooth might not become perfectly white and that bleaching is unpredictable.

Before treatment, a radiograph will be taken to check the root canal treatment and make sure there is no infection. It is also important to make sure that the fillings are in good condition.

Furthermore, it is of great importance that a rubber dam is applied during the bleaching process to prevent bacterial infection of the root canal.


How is the walking bleach technique done?

This is the general procedure for the walking bleach technique:

  1. Vaseline is applied to the lips and a rubber dam is applied to the tooth being whitened.
  2. A hole is made into the space inside your tooth.
  3. A material is placed over the top of the root canal filling to protect the tooth from the bleaching agent.
  4. The bleaching agent is placed inside the tooth.
  5. A temporary filling is placed in the tooth to protect the inside of the tooth and to allow time for the bleach to work.
  6. After one week, you are asked to come in once again. At this appointment, the dentist will decide if there is a need to re-do the bleaching protocol. If everyone is happy with the result, it is advisable to remove the bleaching mixture, place a temporary filling, and place a permanent filling after 3 weeks. Placing a filling is delayed to maximise the bond strength of the filling.


Side effects of the walking bleach technique

One of the most important effects is the changes in enamel and dentin. This can affect how long fillings last on the tooth, and also the strength of the enamel.

There can also be problems such as the tooth becoming pink as a result of a problem known as cervical invasive resorption. We do not know why this occurs in people. It can be fixed in the early stages by a dentist; however, extreme cases may result in the loss of your tooth if you get this rare condition.

 

Kindly written by Dr Akhil Chandra BDSc (Hons UWA)
Dentist, Whitfords Dental Centre, and Editorial Advisory Board Member of the Virtual Dental Centre
 

More information

Teeth  whitening For more information on various bleaching techniques for teeth, including home bleaching, assisted bleaching, power bleaching, the thermocatalytic technique and the walking bleach technique, see Teeth Whitening.  

References

  1. Plotino G, Buono L, Grande NM, Pameijer CH, Somma F. Nonvital tooth bleaching: a review of the literature and clinical procedures. J Endod. 2008 Apr;34(4):394-407.
  2. Attin T, Paque F, Ajam F, Lennon AM. Review of the current status of tooth whitening with the walking bleach technique. Int Endod J. 2003 May;36(5):313-29.
  3. Abbott, P.V. Endodontics and dental traumatology: An overview of modern endodontics. Perth: International Federation of Endodontic Associations 1999.
  4. Attin T, Hartmann O, Hilgers RD, Hellwig E. Fluoride retention of incipient enamel lesions after treatment with a calcium fluoride varnish in vivo. Arch Oral Biol. 1995 Mar;40(3):169-74.
  5. Heithersay GS. Clinical, radiologic, and histopathologic features of invasive cervical resorption. Quintessence Int. 1999 Jan;30(1):27-37.