Teeth Whitening

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 teeth whitening system that will whiten teeth dramatically. Since teeth 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 at least 2 weeks after bleaching so they will match the newly bleached teeth.

Teeth whitening is not permanent. A touch-up may be needed every several years, and more often if you smoke, drink coffee, tea, or wine.

Reasons for teeth 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 home teeth whitening involve?

This type of teeth 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. If further discomfort is encountered please discontinue use and talk to your dentist.

You will receive custom care instructions for your teeth and trays, and be encouraged to visit your dentist regularly to help maintain a beautiful, healthy, white smile.

What preparation is necessary before the in office treatment?

In office whitening procedure elicits the best results on clean, healthy teeth. Therefore, a thorough cleaning is recommended prior to the treatment, to rid the teeth of plaque, tartar and rotting food particles. The dentist will always thoroughly examine the teeth while performing the cleaning to check for any fractures, inflammation or decay. Photographs might also be taken of the teeth prior to the bleaching procedure. This makes “before and after” comparisons more evident.

What does in office whitening treatment involve?

None of the steps in the in office system should cause discomfort but if sensitivity developed fluoride and other dental treatments can be applied to manage the situation. The in office steps are as follows

    A retractor is placed inside the mouth to fully expose the teeth.
    A hardening resin is applied to the gums to prevent the bleaching gel from irritating them.
    The gel and blue light are applied to the teeth for twenty minutes or so.
    The dentist checks whitening progress.
    The gel is removed and then more gel is applied for another twenty minutes if necessary.
    The gel is again removed and then more gel is applied for an additional twenty minutes if necessary.
    The retractors are removed when the final gel application is complete.
    The mouth is rinsed and the new tooth color is measured immediately.

The teeth may look incredibly white immediately after treatment due to mild dehydration. The actual color of teeth will become apparent when the teeth have had 48 hours to rehydrate.

Some in office whitening systems are applied to custom trays with a special high concentrated gel while you are in the office and do not require the steps listed above.

Chairside whitening system that can reduce sensitivity, decrease treatment time, and require professional experience include using visual light and lasers.

It is important to seek advice from the dentist prior to beginning a bleaching regime. Women who are pregnant or lactating should not seek bleaching treatment.

How do bleaching products whiten the teeth?

Bleaching process that lighten the dentin and enamel of the teeth. They contain a hydrogen peroxide component, which is the active ingredient in the gel. When hydrogen peroxide is applied to the teeth, the peroxide component breaks down into tiny oxygen bubbles. It is these bubbles that eliminate yellowing and staining.

What happens after treatment?

The same external factors that caused the discoloration in the first place can quickly work their way back onto the teeth. For this reason, the dentist recommends flossing once a day, thorough cleaning with anti-sensitivity toothpaste twice a day, and occasional retreatment. These post-treatment measures will ensure that the smile stays at its whitest for a long time. Whitening toothpastes are simply abrasive materials that aggressively remove extrinsic stain on the surface of the tooth.