Tooth 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 tooth whitening involve?
In our office we have three different tooth whitening options.
1. We have a professional strength whitening "strip". This is usually a good option for someone who just needs a little brightening, or someone who wants to test out the whitening process before financially committing to one of the stronger or more long term whitening options. The great thing about our strip is that they reach all teeth, are a little stronger and have a desensitizer built into them that most over the counter strips do not.
2. We have an in chair whitening option. During this procedure we will isolate the teeth and place a very stong concentration of tooth whitening gel on the teeth for three rounds of 15 minutes each. While you are going through the treatment you can pass the time watching Netflix on our mounted IPAD. We like to suggest this treatment if you are interested in lightening about 1-2 shades and either have an event coming up that you need a quick result, or you know you are someone who will just not use any home options for whitening. The make-up of every person's teeth varies, and so the results vary as well depending on how will your teeth can take in the bleach.
3. Our third option is our favorite option for effective and long term whitening success. This is to have custom trays made. 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. The amount of time and frequency of application will vary on which concentration of gel you choose, we have four options from a low concentration that is good for patients that tend to have sensitive teeth, to a very strong application for those who don't want to wear the trays very long but are not worried about sensitivity. If you experience tooth sensitivity during the time you are whitening your teeth that is normal, but it will subside shortly after you have stopped bleaching.
To help minimize sensitivity we also suggest not brushing your teeth ten minutes before or after bleaching. When you are done bleaching simply rise the gel out. If additional help is needed to reduce sensitivity, we suggest using a sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne. Lastly, if sensitivity persists, then you may want to space out your intervals of bleaching. Instead of doing it every day, do it every other day or every third day.
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.