Teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of natural tooth enamel and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile.
Because having whiter teeth has now become the number one aesthetic concern of most patients, there are a number of ways to whiten teeth. The most popular method is using a home tooth whitening system that will whiten teeth dramatically. Since tooth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is important to evaluate replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc. Replacement of any restorations will be done after bleaching so they will match the newly bleached teeth.
Tooth whitening is not permanent. A touch-up maybe needed every several years, and more often if you smoke, drink coffee, tea, or wine.
Reasons for tooth whitening:
Fluorosis (excessive fluoridation during tooth development).
Normal wear of outer tooth layer.
Stained teeth due to medications (tetracycline, etc.).
Yellow, brown stained teeth.
What does At-Home tooth whitening involve?
This type of tooth whitening usually requires two visits. At the first appointment, impressions (molds) will be made of your teeth to fabricate custom, clear plastic, trays.
At your second appointment, you will try on the trays for proper fit, and adjustments will be made if necessary. The trays are worn with special whitening solution either twice a day for 30 minutes or overnight for a couple of weeks depending on the degree of staining and desired level of whitening. It is normal to experience tooth sensitivity during the time you are whitening your teeth, but it will subside shortly after you have stopped bleaching.
You will receive care instructions for your teeth and trays, and be encouraged to visit your dentist regularly to help maintain a beautiful, healthy, white smile.
What does In-Office tooth whitening involve?
The first thing that will happen when you receive in-office whitening is that the dentist or hygienist will need to establish your baseline tooth color. This gives your dental professional an idea of exactly how stained your teeth are, and how deep the stains are into your teeth. Usually, a dentist or hygienist will have an assortment of colored tabs that will be compared against your teeth. This way, your dentist can record precisely how stained your teeth are when you came in, and define the effectiveness (determined by how many shades) of the teeth whitening. Some dentists also like to take a picture of the patient’s mouth as another tool for determining the transformation from stained to whitened teeth.
After a baseline is established, a dental hygienist will cover your lips and gums so that the irritating peroxide gel does not touch sensitive oral tissues. Next, a whitening gel is gently applied to your teeth by the hygienist. Some systems use a laser light, which does not create heat or UV rays but accelerates the whitening process.
Once the light is turned on, the gel activates and the whitening process begins. While the bleaching agent is penetrating your teeth and breaking up stains and discoloration you will be free to read, watch television, or listen to the radio. The entire process of in-office teeth whitening usually takes about one hour from start to finish.